Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Local Program To Tackle Trash Problems

Better sanitation for local restaurants is imminent as the D.C. Department of Health’s new garbage and rodent control program took effect this September in some areas of Georgetown.

Under this pilot program, the Department of Health inspects local businesses more frequently for proper garbage disposal. Inspectors have also been given the authority to exterminate rats in these areas, both during inspections and on community members’ requests, Advisory Neighborhood Commission Vice Chairman Bill Starrels said.

The university has agreed to collaborate with the local ANC and the Citizens Association of Georgetown in co-sponsoring this program, put into effect by the D.C. Department of Health, Starrels said.

The program began as a response to Georgetown restaurants’ improper garbage disposal, according to Starrels.

“Before this initiative, you’d go out on M street, and the trash would just be unmentionable at times,” he said.

The new garbage inspection and regulation schedule is only in effect in certain areas of Georgetown, including parts of Prospect Street and M Street, Starrels said. CAG Beautification Committee Chair Brenda Moorman said, however, that if the community responds positively to the program, the Department of Health is likely to follow similar inspection guidelines for the rest of the Georgetown area.

The issue was brought up at an ANC meeting on Oct. 2, when officials from the DOH and from the city’s Department of Public Works spoke about the increased presence of rats in the neighborhood.

Starrels said that complaints from residents eventually prompted the ANC to contact the Department of Health.

“It all seemed to come to a head in the summertime,” he said. “Some of the residents around M Street were talking about protesting restaurants that were coming in around the M Street area.”

He said that the ANC proposed the new garbage-control program to the DOH in order to temper this reaction. He added that the program has helped to limit rat infestation and improper garbage disposal.

“There is a visible difference in and around Georgetown since the program started,” he said.

The DOH shut down Johnny Rockets on M Street for over a week last winter for health code violations, citing “evidence of recent rodent activity.” Additionally, Philly Pizza on 34th Street was shut down for one day in 2006 for violations that included rodent infestation.

Moorman said that garbage-disposal regulations have not been changed under the program but that the Department of Health simply plans to enforce these regulations more strictly. The regulations for trash disposal in the District state that trash must be place in closed receptacles on the curb no earlier than 6:30 p.m. before the assigned trash collection date.

“Basically, the project is to educate businesses – specifically restaurants – and residents about what they need to do to prevent rats and dispose of garbage,” Moorman said. “Many of the recommendations [we receive from program participants] will no doubt be put into place in the larger community,” she said.

Starrels said, however, that work is far from done.

“We always get complaints,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while to get rid of them.”

Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing, said she was not aware of the program.

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