ANC to Eye Reforms for Street Dumpsters

Tags:
Photo by Brian Kapur/The Current
Some Georgetown residents worry that with cheap long-term permits, there’s no incentive to remove dumpsters quickly.
Some Georgetown residents worry that with cheap long-term permits, there’s no incentive to remove dumpsters quickly.

By Brady Holt
Current Staff Writer

In Georgetown and other high-demand neighborhoods of closely packed single-family homes, curbside dumpsters are a familiar sign that another property is undergoing extensive renovation.

But with parking at a premium in such areas, Georgetown’s advisory neighborhood commission is preparing to consider recommending that the city overhaul its dumpster permits.

“These are huge receptacles that are wider than a parked automobile and take up precious space just in terms of available driving space on the street, and they also take up precious parking spaces,” neighborhood commissioner Tom Birch said at the group’s June 30 meeting. The commission intends to take up the matter more fully Sept. 2.

Under current city rules, homeowners can place a dumpster on the street in front of their property at a cost of $150 for every six months — and at a cost of several parking spaces. Birch said the relative lack of restrictions means there is little incentive for contractors to minimize how long a dumpster stays in place.

“These things sit there for days with a blue cover on them and nothing gets put in them for days,” said Birch.

Among the ideas that commissioners will consider suggesting to the city in September are increasing the dumpster fees, placing stricter limits on how long dumpsters can remain in front of a home and charging progressively higher fees the longer a dumpster stays in place. Another is to ban them altogether.

“There’s no reason to have dumpsters in a small scenic village like Georgetown,” resident Carol Joynt said in an interview. “This is a neighborhood with very rich people. They can afford to have dump trucks come in and out on a daily basis.”

The issue has come up periodically over the years, but it received heightened attention a couple of months ago when Joynt, a prominent Georgetowner who serves as an editor-at-large of Washingtonian magazine, heard a neighbor’s concerns about a particular project, in the 1400 block of 31st Street. Joynt contacted the office of Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans, and his staff began working with the community on both the specific case and the broader issue.

“There’s a lot of money spilling into Georgetown and there’s not a lot of regulation on this sort of thing,” Joynt said. “So it’s running up on being a little bit out of control, which shows there needs to be perhaps some new rules.”

Evans was unavailable for an interview, but he provided a written statement on Monday: “Parking continues to be a large concern for residents and visitors in Georgetown. I understand that the ANC is working with residents to discuss different issues, including how to manage dumpsters. I look forward to working with the ANC and residents on any recommendations they make.”

Changes to dumpster policies could require both regulatory changes within the D.C. Department of Transportation and an act of the council. Transportation Department spokesperson Reggie Sanders did not respond to questions.

Several Georgetowners have noted that some contractors avoid dumpsters altogether, instead using trucks to continually haul away debris and make nighttime parking available for the community. They also found a precedent in Old Town Alexandria, Va., where dumpsters are prohibited.

“It’s a very similar neighborhood, they have a lot of renovations, and they get by with no dumpsters,” neighborhood commissioner Bill Starrels said of Old Town. Starrels said previous efforts to ban or otherwise control dumpsters were stymied by government dysfunction, but he’s more optimistic this time around that reform can be achieved. “I don’t understand why this is permitted in this day and age.”

This article appears in the July 23 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

6 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

This is not only a Georgetown problem. My one block street is very narrow, with parking on both sides. When a dumpster is parked, and normal street parking is full, then not can the UPS truck not pass, nor can an ambulance or fire truck. There should be a minimum width for streets where these things can be parked.

Anonymous

Carol Joynt is the gift that keeps on giving.

Anonymous

“There’s no reason to have dumpsters in a small scenic village like Georgetown,” resident Carol Joynt said in an interview. “This is a neighborhood with very rich people. They can afford to have dump trucks come in and out on a daily basis.”

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Gag me with a spoon!

I am sure that dump trucks would be very popular on the narrow streets of Georgetown.

My recommendation: get over it.

Anonymous

It's too snide and stupid to merit a reply.

EastGeorgetowner

While Carol's comment may be over the top (there are a range of incomes in Georgetown, of course), let's stay focused on the principle here: she's right that there is no reason for large dumpsters parked on city streets. If Old Town can get along without them, so can we. (I would be shocked if they were allowed in the historic part of Charleston or Boston either). Not only do they take up parking spots and make driving on the street hard, they are incredibly unsightly and a huge eye sore in a historic protected district of our Nation's capitol. Contractors like John Richardson who haul the debris every day in order to keep construction sites clean and tidy should be commended. And kudos to Tom Birch for his good work on this issue too.

Cave Dweller

I agree, these things are horrible, attract everyone's non-construction rubbish, and plenty of rats. I remember one on Dumbarton Avenue near 31st Street that sat there for years, years! Only rarely was anything thrown in and it took up at least 4 parking spots. Ban 'em, I say!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.