Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BCCA to Litterbugs: You Have Two Days

Tired of seeing trash heaped over the dumpsters in Buckingham? So is the Buckingham Community Civic Association. But what to do? It turns out the code that forces a land owner to keep the trash in the dumpster really has no teeth.

A property owner, slapped with a warning from the Arlington County Code Enforcement Office, has 10 business days to clear away trash. Well, if the property is an apartment complex, most likely the trash will be cleared away within the next week. The owner or management never faces a fine, only a warning, so that owner can keep mounding then clearing the trash, week after week.

This became apparent during a presentation by Marlene Terreros-Oronao, a historic preservation code inspector, at the BCCA meeting Monday night, Sept. 17.

Said Pat Hope, the BCCA president, “Essentially, there’s no code enforcement in code enforcement…I know Code Enforcement contacts them [the offending property owners]…They thumb their noses at them, at us.”

Ms. Terreros-Oronao said if the BCCA wants the code to have teeth, it needs to be brought into line with other codes that only allow two days for a property owner to fix infractions.

“I would like this [code] to be changed from 10 to two,” Ms. Terreros-Oronao said. This will force property owners to realize there is a recurrent problem that needs a better fix than weekly removal, people at the meeting said.

Ms. Terreros-Oronao said without any teeth in that code, she relies more on education, telling property owners what they should be doing.

“Once I educate the person who’s doing it, I don’t have a problem,” she said.

So, at the meeting’s end, the BCCA voted to ask the county board to change the law to force litterbug property owners to clean-up in two business days or face the $100 fine. The next step, Mr. Hope said, is to bring this to the Civic Federation to see if other neighborhoods wish to add their voices.

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