Fined for putting garbage bins in wrong place

(WSVN) - For 20 years he kept his garbage cans in the same place. Then he started getting fined for the cans being in the wrong place. As the fines piled up, he wasn’t told where the cans needed to be, and he made the call every South Floridian can make to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser. .

For 20 years, Santiago kept his garbage cans here.

On pickup day, he would roll them out here.

And then that night, move them back here.

Santiago Mccluskey: “You would think, after living in the same place for 20 years, you would know how everything works.”

Santiago thought he knew the garbage collection routine in Hallandale Beach — until he got a courtesy notice on his door.

Santiago Mccluskey: “The trash cans were in the right of way.”

But since they were in the same spot for 20 years, Santiago thought it was a mistake. Then, the next day, he got cited.

Santiago Mccluskey: “The fine was supposed to be $100 a day in case we didn’t comply.”

But Santiago wasn’t sure what he had to comply with. The ticket said he was in violation of Chapter 32 Section 32-635.

Code enforcement wrote his trash cans were out by the street, so he called the city.

Santiago Mccluskey: “Now the trash cans have to be 25 feet from the curb.”

Santiago thought he had solved the problem when he moved the trash cans here against his fence.

Little did he know code enforcement was taking pictures day after day to document that he was still violating their ordinance, and he was being fined for that.

Santiago Mccluskey: “Then again, we didn’t know we were doing anything wrong at the time.”

Sixteen days later, Santiago spoke to code enforcement again, and was told he hadn’t moved his garbage cans far enough back — to take them from here to here — and that he was going to be fined since it took him 16 days to do that.

Santiago Mccluskey: “We were in shock, to say the least.”

Santiago said he was told he could argue his garbage can case before the City Magistrate.

He did. He lost, and got a letter telling him how much he owed the city.

Santiago Mccluskey: “Now owe the city $1,800. We were mortified by it.”

Mortified, Santiago said, because the citation said his trash cans had to be moved from the right of way — meaning off the sidewalk or road — and it took 16 days for someone to tell him he had to move them near this house.

Santiago Mccluskey: “The warning was misleading.”

Well, Howard, you have heard Santiago’s story. Legally, who is right? Hallandale Beach or Santiago?

Howard Finkelstein: “Santiago is, because he was not given due process, and by that I mean he is entitled to what the law calls notice. In other words, you have to tell him exactly what he is being cited for and how to correct it. Being told your trash cans are out by the street is misleading because the law requires he be told exactly where they could not be placed.”

A Hallandale Beach city official then cleared things up for Santiago in writing.

“Following a review of the file, we would like to both acknowledge the due process questions Howard has raised and thank the property owner for eventually complying.” The $250 hearing fee was wiped out, and the $1,600 fine was reduced to $160. Adding, “The city’s goal is not revenue but improving the quality of the neighborhood.”

Finally, it turns out garbage cans had to be this far back for years. The ordinance just hadn’t been enforced.

Santiago Mccluskey: “We are very happy with the city.”

Happy with Hallandale Beach and those people from Help Me Howard.

Santiago Mccluskey: “We are ecstatic. We are ecstatic. We are happy that this worked out.

Glad to help you, Santiago, and glad to see Hallandale Beach move so quickly when we got in touch with them.

Now, why did the code enforcement officer who kept stopping by to take pictures wait 16 days to tell Santiago the cans had to be moved further back? We don’t know, but since the city said it’s about compliance and not generating revenue, maybe their employees should make it clear how to fix a violation, when they issue a violation.

Facing a headache you think is garbage? Don’t kick the can down the road. Dump it in our lap. ‘Cause your trash is our treasure.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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