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

Monday, May 4, 2009

Deputy Mayor Neil Albert Comments

April Discussion Leader
Our primary discussion leader at our April meeting was Neil Albert, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Planning. He covered the breadth of public space development across downtown including the convention center hotel, CityCenterDC, The Arts at 5th and Eye Streets, Franklin School, and the Louis Dreyfus 395 air rights project. In short, despite the slowdown, we have a lot of development activity in the pipeline.

City Economy in Good Shape
Deputy Mayor Albert shared that our city economy is in good shape, especially when compared with neighboring Virginia and Maryland and we continue to benefit from lots of development. He discussed the mayor’s commitment to no tax increases, buttressed by efforts to reduce overhead by 15 percent and a focus on efficiencies. He noted that city government had been growing at an unsustainable rate of 8 to 11 percent over the past decade.

Development Projects
He discussed many of the projects that are currently in some phase of development in our neighborhood. Those he discussed include:
  • The Convention Center Hotel, funded by $152 million in Tax Increment Funding dollars will not be completed until 2012. In order to be competitive, our convention center must have the hotel.
  • CityCenterDC is moving forward and the deputy mayor was 85 percent sure that we would have a ground breaking this year.
  • The Arts at 5th & Eye negotiations continue between the developer group and the city. The deputy mayor was 99.75 percent sure that an agreement would close and that the project would go forward.
  • He acknowledged our interest in the development of the Franklin School property. There will be a request for expressions of interest going out soon to help the city review possible uses for this property before any formal RFP process begins. He promised to engage downtown residents in the process as it goes forward.
  • The Louis Dreyfus project puts a top on highway 395 with mixed-use development including commercial, retail, and residential uses included. They had shared at an earlier ANC meeting plans to locate the Jewish Historical building to the west lawn of The Building Museum, a plan that DNA had objected too. He shared that they would prepare the new location and that there would be no intermediate temporary location.
Deputy Mayor Albert was asked about the possibilities of bringing more flowers downtown. He suggested that this was a local neighborhood issue where residents could work together to plant and care for flowers as community effort. He offered his services to help with the planting and noted that some funding might be available. It was something, though, that the city would not do beyond providing help for residents.

Overall, we were treated to a candid, educational, and occasionally humurous discussion and a commitment to include us in the developement process.