Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trash Collection Noise Abatements Act

Most Common Complaint
The most common complaint we receive relate to noise from events, dance clubs and taverns, and early morning trash haulers. Apparently, at least in terms of trash haulers, the council passed legislation that provides some protection. DCRA is working the Office of the Attorney General to create the regulations and process by which the law will be enforced. We have no clue of when these regulation will be ready or what kind of neighborhood training will be developed. However, you can now file a complaint by going to www.dcra.dc.gov site and selecting the Trash Truck Noise option.

Guidance from DCRA Director Linda Argo
Last year the Council enacted the Trash Collection Noise Abatements Act (DC Law 17-259, effective November 19, 2008), whereby residents fill out a complaint form and attach photographic evidence of after-hours trash collections. DCRA will review the complaints and evidence, and then could issue a citation to the alleged violator without the need for a DCRA inspector to witness the violation. DCRA is working with the Office of the Attorney General on the regulations and forms for implementing the law. Once the law is implemented, DCRA will conduct an education campaign to let residents know the procedures for filing a complaint.

The relevant trash collection regulation (20 DCMR 2806) prohibits noise from trash collections between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am, Monday through Saturday (with the exception of holidays) in residential, special purpose, or waterfront zones, or within 300 feet of any of these zones. Violators can be issued citations by a DCRA inspector or an MPD officer.

DCRA Actions
Because DCRA has received several complaints of noise from after-hours trash collections, they are taking the following actions:

First, if they receive complaints that identify the trash collection company, DCRA will check their business records to see if the company is licensed to operate in the District. If it is, then a letter will be sent to their corporate address notifying them of their legal obligation to comply with the trash collection provisions of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. If they are not licensed, then we will send a letter to their corporate address notifying them of their legal obligation to properly license their company and their trucks if they are doing business in the District, and the amount of fines they can be issued for failure to comply.

Second, where complaints of after-hour trash collections regularly occurring at certain times in a particular location, DCRA can send out an investigator to visit that area. If the investigator finds any unlicensed trash operators or any after-hours trash collections, he or she can issue citations.

Third, DCRA will be sending a letter to all licensed trash collection companies operating in the District notifying them that we have received complaints about after-hours trash collections, that such collections violate DC noise control laws, and that the company risks a fine for any future violations.

Will This Work?
It is great to see legislation addressing a problem that plagues us throughout our Downtown Neighborhood. The critical challenge will be responsiveness and enforcement. DCRA Director Linda Argo will be at our June 9th meeting and we hope she can address the enforcement process fully, then. If you are having problems, check out their web site and file a complaint. You can also send me a note that you have filed a complaint and together, we can track the result.

Miles E. Groves
Email: miles@dcdna.org

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