…because as Baltimore residents, that’s what we do. I’ve never discussed garbage more than after I moved to Baltimore in 2000. It’s a constant struggle and source of frustration — if you belong to your neighborhood’s Nextdoor, you probably see the same complaints over and over again, as I do. One of my neighbors constantly described the goings-ons by one family he dubbed “The Trash Heaps” — lest you think he was simply being unkind, let me assure you, he was being dead-on descriptive. That house was a nightmare and a constant source of emails in my inbox. They no longer live on my neighbor’s street, and God bless whoever gets them as neighbors…I hope you really like the sight and smell of a lot of garbage.
Now, according to the Baltimore Brew, the City wants to implement a pay-as-you-go scheme for trash collection. You may think this is a great idea. You may wonder what took them so long. You may be so thrilled you’re beside yourself, reveling in the glee that comes with city-provided trash cans and a pay-as-you-go trash pickup scheme. Or, like me, you could shake your head and wonder why on earth our City government doesn’t stop to think that perhaps asking people to pay as they go…for anything city-service related…is a bad idea. Hint: They probably won’t pay.
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re a pretty decent sort. You pay your taxes, put out your trash in a bin with a lid, and don’t make a general nuisance of yourself to your neighbors, regardless of the kind of neighborhood you live in, or your income level. You’re just the kind of person my dad referred to as “good people”. Yay you! And you’re thinking “This is a great idea. Now our trash collection will be more streamlined. More efficient. Less trash in the streets.” My dear reader…”streamlined” and “efficient” + Baltimore City government…do you see where I’m going with this?
Lest you think I’m in the business of slamming the good folks at DPW, think again. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years, and I couldn’t ask for better trash collectors. They actually are efficient. And nice. My trash can is always placed back onto my patio after they haul the contents away, and I’ve never lost a lid yet. The only time I lost a trash can in those 15 years was shortly after Martin O’Malley came up with his limp “BELIEVE” campaign and we were all given a trash can with that word emblazoned on the side. Oh I believed, alrighty. And my trash can was promptly stolen the day after it arrived, never to be seen again. I believed, (for a hot minute) and then I had to haul myself to the Home Depot to buy another darn can. It should have been a sign, I tell you.
The simple fact of the matter, however, is that many people –regardless of race, gender, socio-economic blah blah blah — just people from all walks of life, believe me, do not know how to properly dispose of their trash. Or they’re too lazy and/or cheap to do so. I used to watch one of my neighbors (a lawyer, mind you, with a slightly low-rent TV law firm) throw his household trash next to the corner trash can (and not even on trash collection day!), on the ground, and la-di-dah his way to work. For months, years, this went on, until he and his wife moved away. Meanwhile, the Section 8 folks down the street faithfully put out their cans (with lids!) every Tuesday night and didn’t make a mess (I still think half the block blamed them and not Mister Lazy Lawyer.) They still live in the neighborhood, thankfully.
The point of this post is to illustrate that my neighborhood, like so many across the city, have long become dumping grounds. And not just by rogue contractors, waste haulers, and homeowners who are doing a rehab and don’t want to pay the dump fees. We’ve long been a dumping ground by the very residents who might live next door. Across the street, and we’re tired of it. Implementing a pay-as-you-go trash collection scheme might work in some neighborhoods that don’t already have a trash problem. And that’s great. But for those of us who do — it’s going to result in more illegal dumping, more trash, more rats, and might just be the incentive for many of us who have stuck it out, to leave.
It’s a bad plan, and will end up being punitive towards those residents who do follow the law and dispose of their trash properly. As with most things in Baltimore, it boils down to a lack of enforcement and punishment that actually acts as a deterrent. I would urge everyone to contact their City Council representative and ask him or her to squash this bad plan, which only amounts to yet another tax on our city’s struggling middle class.
I went for a walk through Carroll Park today, and as I usually do, I ended up walking along the rail tracks behind the mansion. It’s an interesting view of the park and the surrounding neighborhoods. You can see 611-661 S Monroe from the rail tracks, too.
Some would have you believe that nobody uses Carroll Park, and it needs “saving”. As someone who lives a block away, I can assure you — this is anything but true. Most days the park is filled with people using the ball fields, the soccer fields, and the basketball courts. The skatepark and playground are used often, too. The adjacent charter school, Southwest Baltimore Charter School, uses the playground for the kids at recess — which is a great idea. Carroll Park is also home to a large music festival in September, bringing hundreds of people to the neighborhood. My neighbors use it, too. It’s a great place to walk, and I usually see moms and seniors as I’m walking through. It’s also home to the Mt. Clare Museum — a beautiful piece of Baltimore’s history. It’s certainly not a dying park, or in need of any “saving”. It’s a treasure to my neighborhood, and is well-used by people across the city.
However — with all that said, it’s also being used by trash dumpers, and this certainly is something that needs to be addressed. The Baltimore Brew did an article and a follow-up on a recent dump site that was found closer to the golf course (yes, Pigtown has a golf course!) Today on my walk, I came across this dump site:
My guess this was a rehabber who didn’t want to pay to dispose of waste properly, or pay to get a Dumpster (or permit for a Dumpster. Much easier to dump it somewhere and make it someone else’s problem. Walk a few yards further, and under the Monroe Street bridge, you’ll find yet more garbage that someone foisted off on our community:
As you can see, this area has become a haven for illegal dumping — something I believe the City will work to correct, particularly if residents keep on top of it and make it a priority. One suggestion would be to cut off access from the side street that leads into the rail yard — possibly by a fence that has a gate just wide enough for pedestrian or bike traffic.
People who engage in illegal dumping should know that our neighborhood knows you’re doing this, and we’re staying on top of this — so think twice before dumping your garbage in Carroll Park, or any city park. If you can’t bear the cost of doing business the legal way, please take your business (and your garbage) elsewhere.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University recently issued a report on investor activity in Atlanta. Not surprisingly, the study found that investors were buying up property in neighborhoods where poverty and vacancy rates were high, and median home values were low.
A group of Montgomery County legislators have introduced a bill that has the slumlord lobby up in arms — the bill proposes Maryland property owners who own four or more rental units should be subject to rent control. It also mandates that landlords cannot force tenants to make them the beneficiary of renters’ insurance policies. These two things are definitely worth supporting. Unfortunately, the bill is a bit of a mishmash, with other landlord-tenant issues thrown in — not sure where it will end up.
Some New York City landlords have found a way to make money off the homeless, by operating for-profit SROs/rooming houses — and needless to say, the living conditions are less than acceptable.
I’ve always been fascinated with Centralia, PA — a mostly-abandoned town situated on top of a coal fire that’s been burning for decades. WGAL has a “then and now” slideshow that’s worth a look.
How to be successful in Maryland politics: Give your campaign contributors lucrative development contracts. Just don’t get caught…
CBS Baltimore reports that a recent house fire, in which one woman was found dead in the basement, was more than just a simple house fire.
So now the Mayor wants you to pay for trash pickup? I thought property taxes paid for that, but…perhaps I was wrong. Oh, and the City is dicking around with the Fire Department again. It’s all about solving the budget crisis, I guess so we’ll have more money to give to local developers.
Speaking of the budget, how would you balance our completely out of whack budget? There’s a website for that.
Property Address: 1326 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
Property Owner: Darmay Tolliver, same address (home is not listed as owner-occupied).
City Council District and Contact: District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch
State Senator: Verna Jones Rodwell
Thanks to Reader SS for sending the pics and information — the woman who owns this home apparently owns several in the neighborhood, catering to clients of BBH, the controversial drug treatment facility that’s been a problem to the neighbors of Pigtown, Hollins Market, and Union Square for years. Reader SS accurately describes 1326 Hollins Street as “The House of Trash”.
Property Address: 1800 Worcester Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
Property Owner: Carlyn J. Johnson, 1400 Patapsco Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
This business and its proprietor was the subject of a 2005 City Paper article, after police raided the illegal gambling club and seized cash, guns, and other property — including the club’s membership roster. Unfortunately, it’s been a blighted mess ever since — given its location at the end of an industrial street next to the CSX tracks, it’s become a haven for trash dumping and poorly-done gang tags.
Thanks to Reader M for the submission!
Property Address: 1200 Cooskie Street, Baltimore, MD 21230 – Locust Point
Property Owner: Locust Point Rocket, LLC, 117 W. Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701
Registered Agent for Locust Point Rocket, LLC: Edward D. Scott, same address.
City Council District and Contact: District 10, Ed Reisinger
The Adkins-Burns construction sign on the side of the building is familiar though. They seem to have a habit of tearing apart buildings in the area and then not finishing the job or taking FOREVER.
This property has been sitting like this since the snow. At some point I think someone complained about the scaffolding and they were forced to post a permit for it. The sidewalk is basically useless from all of their trash. It is littered with broken glass and weeds forcing people to have to walk their dogs in the street to go around it. The last time I saw someone do any work on this property (I walk by it every day) was probably April or May. It is a complete eyesore on an otherwise good stretch of blocks right off Hull Street.
I should point out that my other submission of a property on hull street was being worked on by the same [people].
Update: There is one active permit, which expires in October of this year — yet no work has been done on the property.
Update 3/25/2013: This home is now in the receivership process. Baltimore Housing filed on 3/13, and the court date is in May. Hopefully this property will be sold to a responsible property owner who will take care of it. Many thanks to Reader Rusty for catching this one!
Property Address: 2037 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
Property Owner: Melvin T. Russell, 3405 Periwinkle Way, Edgewood, MD 21040
City Council District and Contact: District 13, Warren Branch
This home is owned by Melvin Russell, commanding officer of the Baltimore City Police, Eastern District Station. Perhaps that explains why Major Russell has never been hauled into housing court for the numerous violations involving this property. Please note the trash, and open/missing windows.