Summer to Fall to Winter to Spring to Summer. It happens seemingly in the blink of an eye, at least the Summer to Winter part of it. The Winter part lasts FOREVER.
I like to show off the view from my balcony, the greenery that greets me during that blink of an eye. When the greenery and foliage is gone, I get what the picture on the right shows — a view of the berm and the privacy fence that sits at the top of the berm. My balcony also faces an old, section 9 apartment complex. Hidden by the leaves during the summer months, the apartments loom above the fence, hogging my horizon view. What also appears is all the garbage that has blown over the privacy fence from the apartment dumpster.
There isn’t a little amount of trash. There is a lot of trash. I moved into my condo in the Spring of 2017 (yes, blink of an eye… time flies), when the foliage had already begun making the berm a beautiful place. That November, when all the leaves had dropped, I received my first exposure to the mess. During the summer, I had noticed there was garbage there, garbage that included empty bottles and cans, but the berm really isn’t negotiable because of the foliage during the green time of year. I had no idea of the extent of the mess.
Neighbors told me that they had tried to get the condo association to do something about the garbage from the apartments, but they said they had no jurisdiction. The property manager had the same issue. It was the city’s responsibility, they said. The condo board president confirmed when I asked. So I grabbed several construction sized garbage bags that I had left from when I moved from my house, filled them with the refuse that had collected over the summer, likely for a few years. It was disgusting, disheartening. One bag was filled with only bottles and cans, as well as several jugs over used motor oil that had been tossed over the fence. There were two slats missing from the fence, and one numbskull from the apartments shoved his lunch garbage through the fence while I was picking up the garbage!
I repeated the drill a few times that winter, as well as the Novembers that followed.. until this November. Why am I doing this? I asked myself. This shouldn’t be my responsibility. I pay an association fee of over $300 a month. So, at the encouragement of the former condo board president, I sent an email to the property manager, CC’d the condo board. I made two simple requests — please ask the apartment manager to correct the issue with the garbage coming over the fence from the apartment dumpsters, an obvious code violation, and have the garbage on our berm picked up. That email was sent a little over two weeks ago, on a Wednesday.
The property manager did not respond to or acknowledge my email at all. I waited two days, followed up with another email to the property manager and asked for confirmation that my email had been received. I received a one sentence response Friday afternoon, a few hours later,advising my email had been forwarded to ‘the manager’. Is the manager the apartment manager? I asked that question and did not get a response.
Monday came and went with no response. Tuesday afternoon and I had not received a response from the property manager, so I sent a message to the city and asked how to report a possible code violation at the apartments. They responded the next morning with the phone number to call, as well a link to the city website where the complaint document could be filled out. The city also thanked me for contacting them, told me that the chief enforcement officer had been notified. Wednesday morning, during my work break, I sent a follow up email to the property manager with the information the city had provided. I also asked that they would acknowledge my email, let me know if action was going to be taken.
Crickets. No response. Wednesday evening, I took the avenue that is a bit cowardly, but I know can be effective. I posted on the condo FB page the pictures I had taken of the mess and the apartment dumpsters, asked my fellow residents to support my efforts to get something done by sending emails to our property manager. The current condo board responded to the post, said that she was sorry that I had not received a response and that she had asked the property manager to respond to me. She also indicated that she didn’t like that I had contacted the property manager, told me that I needed to be patient because the property manager had been working on my request since it had been received. I had to grit my teeth lest I say something I would regret. It’s no fun being lied to and equally distasteful to be talked down to.
I succeeded (mostly) in limiting my response, but I did make sure that the condo president knew that Thursday morning finished with no response at all from the property manager. I let her know that I would send one more follow up email, but would start calling the property manager if no response was received. It had been a week with no response besides ‘your request has been forwarded to a manager’.
I finally received a response Friday morning — two sentences that informed me the property manager had contacted the city and an officer would be paying the apartment a visit. The document for the code violation had been filed with the city. I thanked the property manager and asked her to keep me informed.
Friday afternoon, I heard the dumpsters being pushed back into the garbage corrals on the other side of the fence.
Monday morning, I sent an email to the property manager, thanked her for her efforts and asked what was going to be done about the garbage on the berm, on our property. She had avoided answering that request. I didn’t say that, but I did say that I would pick up the garbage that afternoon, if it wasn’t going to be done. It was supposed to snow Monday night (and it did) and rain the rest of the week. She responded immediately, said someone would be out to remove the garbage.
Late Tuesday morning, I watched a guy traipse into the little woods on the berm. It was raining and traces of the morning snow were still on the berm. He was carrying a pole to pick up the garbage and had several garbage bags. He emerged with one garbage bag, stuffed full. I watched as he picked the burrs off of his clothing, tied up the bag, then went in with another bag. When he was done, he had completely filled three large garbage bags.
I finished with a follow up email, thanked the property manager for getting the garbage issue resolved, as well as for the improved communication. I asked her if she wanted me to contact the city the next time the garbage becomes a problem — nothing had really been done to prevent it from happening again. She thanked me, told me it was OK if I contacted her instead of the city.
I feel like a persistent pain in the neck, but I had to be persistent in order to get something done. It wasn’t easy. Emails had to be written during work breaks and I don’t get many breaks, as I have a very busy job. This week, I took some time off, so finishing up was easier.
Contrary to what it may seem, I really don’t want to be involved with the politics and drama involved with living in a condo community. However, I am not one to sit on my hands and complain that nothing is getting done. I do something about it!
Here are some of the pictures I sent our property manager. They really don’t show what a mess the berm was.