County fed up with trash pickup problems

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, frustrated with repeated or late trash pickups by American Disposal Services, said last week it will look into taking legal action against the company if the situation doesn’t improve soon.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook (R) and Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith (D) co-sponsored a May 7 board matter on the trash problem, which by all accounts has worsened in the last few weeks. Cook called the chronic missed pickups “a significant health, safety, and community enjoyment problem” for the county.

“Trash is left on street corners, or in overflowing HOA dumpster,” Cook said in the board matter, which can be read in full here. “This open trash attracts rats and other vermin, it smells, and is ugly. The people of Fairfax County deserve better.”

About 90 percent of residents — including the majority of those in Lee District — are serviced by private trash pickup. The rest, including much of Mount Vernon District, have their waste picked up by the county.

American, the primary company contracted for the private pickups, has blamed the recent service issues on a staffing shortage, Cook said. The county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has been working with American to mitigate the problem, and Cook said county staff has gone “above and beyond the call of duty to help American.”

Cook said the county will continue to work with American on the issue, but on May 21 the Board of Supervisors will have a closed door meeting to discuss where the problems stands. If American is still failing to make pickups, Cook said the county will take legal action against the company.

“[The May 21 briefing] should include an analysis of all applicable consumer protection statutes, potential claims of fraud, or other legal issues potentially arising out of American’s failure to meet its commitments to our residents, and any options for the county to seek legal remedies,” Cook said. [T]his is American’s problem, and we expect the company to solve it in the next two weeks, or else the County will be prepared to take whatever legal action may be available. “

Residents, meanwhile, have taken to Nextdoor.com and Facebook to vent their frustrations, and many have indicated they have switched or are planning to switch to new companies for their pickups. Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said he’s been hearing this from residents as well, but noted that the switching of companies has led to other consequences.

“So in some neighborhoods now they have different vendors coming in on the same street every day of the week tearing up the roads,” McKay said, noting a single street could have 5-6 different companies picking up trash or recycling. “This is one of the real bad environmental and infrastructure components [of this problem].”

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