Trashing The No Trash Sign

Bad enough that my apartment complex became pet-friendly a few years ago, granting the neighbors and their “small” dogs permission to piddle on my front doorstep in the hallway. Now my neighbors are dumping their smelly trash bags in the elevator foyer, expecting someone else to haul their garbage out. Since the sewer-and-garbage bill was no longer part of the rent, and the leasing office re-branded this 1960’s housing project as luxury apartments, maybe the neighbors want maid service. A laser-printed sign went up in the foyer: “TAKE TRASH OUTSIDE – NO TRASH IN HALLWAY!”

Not surprisingly, someone trashed the no trash sign. Colorful words in blue pen filled out the blank areas. Corners of the page got ripped off, as if someone needed paper to write a phone number in a hurry. The sign got ripped up into small pieces and scattered around the foyer like dead mice from a cat. Someone did get the message. The smelly trash bags stopped appearing in the hallway.

A bigger trash problem happened outside at the dumpsters around the complex, as overflowing construction debris—mostly 2×4’s and drywall from a remodeling—appeared during the summer nights. This is the most expensive type of garbage to get rid of in Santa Clara County. The maintenance guys had to break it up and move it by wheelbarrow over to their own dumpster behind a locked chain-link fence. A waste of time and money for everyone involved.

One night I heard a loud boom out in the parking lot. Looking out my balcony door, I saw a construction truck backed up to the dumpsters and someone tossing construction debris into the dumpsters. If I had a camera that could take good pictures at night, I would have gone outside and taken pictures for the leasing office to file a police report. I did talk to the maintenance guy breaking up the debris the next morning. He couldn’t understand why no one living in the apartment building behind the dumpsters reported anything. Their line-of-sight of the person and the license plate on the truck was better than mine across the way.

The leasing office didn’t put up any laser-printed signs to stop the illegal dumping. The maintenance guys built walls and a gate around each set of dumpsters. That stopped the dumping of construction debris. The neighbors, however, continued to ignore the posted sign on what can and cannot go into the garbage and recyclable dumpsters, dumping their smelly trash into the nearest dumpster or on the ground.