WASHINGTON - Littering is a huge problem in the nation’s capital and enforcement efforts are in place to stop it. We all know kids can get into trouble from time to time, but the city’s crackdown on littering may have gone a little too far.
A piece of mail addressed to a 2-year-old D.C. girl named Harper was found on the ground in an alley behind the family’s home this week. That led to the city to issue a $75 littering citation to the little girl, which came in the mail on Thursday.
“Can you believe they issued a ticket to her for littering?” said Teresa Westover, the girl’s mother. “And Harper at the time of course goes, ‘That’s not good,’ because we know that we don’t throw trash on the ground.”
While Harper has a big smile on her face after spending the day at the zoo, her mother isn't too happy with the Department of Public Works, which failed to void the ticket when she called the inspector Friday morning to let them know that they had issued the ticket to a 2-year-old.
Neighbors in this Northeast D.C. neighborhood along 9th Street do want see littering enforcement. Their alley has become a dumping ground – we found an old stereo, a lawnmower and even a dirty diaper left behind on the ground. But they said ticketing nearby residents, especially a toddler, isn’t helping.
Meanwhile, Harper is counting her pennies hoping she has saved up enough in her two years to pay the fine.
The Department of Public Works sent a statement to FOX 5 on Friday saying:
"DPW’s Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program is responsible for inspecting sanitation violations to ensure cleanliness is maintained throughout District neighborhoods. The work they do goes a long way toward minimizing rodent infestation and health hazards. Inspectors always evaluate the contents of the waste that appears to be in violation and use identifying information found within the waste to issue a citation. In this instance, we are working with the resident to gather the necessary documentation to dismiss the violation inadvertently given to the two-year old.
We remind residents of the following tips to avoid a sanitation ticket:
• Place trash and recycling containers out for collection no earlier than 6:30 pm the night before collection and no later than 6 am on your collection day. Residents are required to remove trash and recycling containers from public space by 8 pm on your collection day.
• Keep the public space around your property free of litter. Property owners have to ensure that all solid waste, regardless of whether it comes from their property or not, is properly stored at all times in a container that has a tight fitting lid.
• Property owners are responsible for maintaining the public space around their property in clean condition at all times, regardless of whether or not the property owner put the items in the public space. If you reside at a property that receives collection services from the District and you wish to dispose of bulk items, place a service request first to schedule a bulk pick-up and then place the items out for collection after 6:30 pm the day before the scheduled collection date.
• We will continue to partner together with residents and businesses to keep the District clean.