A Trashy Problem

(WSVN) - Imagine if your neighbor’s trash blew all over the neighborhood. That’s nasty, but is it illegal? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Carolyn talks about her mother, she is in awe.

Carolyn Woodberry: “Oh, my goodness, she does everything. She has a treadmill. She works out more than I do; she cooks, she cleans.”

But when Carolyn came over to visit one day, she saw her mother doing something she wished she wouldn’t do.

Carolyn Woodberry: “And she’s in the backyard bending over picking up Family Dollar’s trash behind her house.”

When the store opened, people in the neighborhood were excited.

Carolyn Woodberry: “Because the community doesn’t have to travel far. They have a lot of discounts or whatever.”

But now?

Carolyn Woodberry: “Once they moved to the neighborhood, they just trashed it. Literally trashed it.”

Carolyn has snapped a few pictures, the boxes stacked behind the property.

Carolyn Woodberry: “Instead of doing away with the boxes, cleaning up their mess, they leave boxes, plastic bags, trash. You name it, it’s back there, and they just leave it there.”

Then the wind kicks in, and the trash blows down the alley and into the yards.

Ruth Parker: “Yes, angry, but I can’t help but feel helpless in a way.”

Mixed in the trash: old food.

Carolyn Woodberry: “If a bag burst open, they can’t use it, so they just throw it outside.”

You know what that means for Ruth.

Ruth Parker: “It’s filth — animals, roaches and rats — and it smells. I like a clean place.”

Carolyn says she has complained to the store manager again and again.

Carolyn Woodberry: “And I told him that I’m going to have to reach out to the city or Help Me Howard or somewhere, and he was like, ‘Well, do what you have to do.’ I was like, ‘OK, I will.'”

And so a simple question, Howard: Are piles of trash that start your property illegal?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. It’s legal to keep it on your property; it’s illegal to let it spread. This is one of the reasons Code Enforcement was created: to control how you handle your trash and to make sure you don’t impose on your neighbors. What Ruth is dealing with is illegal, and it’s up to Code Enforcement to make sure it is fixed, or fine the business until they correct the problem.

We contacted Family Dollar, and the City of Miami Code Enforcement cited the property twice — for failure to have sufficient solid waste service, and for dumping and littering on public right of way.

Family Dollar said they would address the problem and clean up immediately.

Carolyn Woodberry: “A humongous difference. Yes, of course, I see a huge difference.”

Less trash, less troubles. Just what Ruth wanted.

Ruth Parker: “I thank Help Me Howard, and I thank you all, too, and my daughter, because it was a living hell back there.”

Now Ruth can spend more time on her treadmill instead of picking up trash in her yard.

And whether it’s a business or a neighbor, Code Enforcement can force them to clean up their act or fine them, so, if you have a trash problem, call Code Enforcement.

A problem littering your life? Want the garbage to disappear? Dump it in our laps, because we have containers of legal books. Howard has even read one or two of them.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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