Garbage Out, Garbage In
August 30, 2013 1:34 PM   Subscribe

The HOA representatives here have decided without owners' vote and with very limited input that trash cans/garbage bins will be kept inside garages rather than in the individual outdoor alcoves specifically designed to conceal them.

The reason given is appearances.

I am opposed to this, reasons given below. The announcement was just made a few days ago, and goes into effect -- with fines for owners with outdoor bins -- in just a couple of days. It's based on a very loose interpretation of the association rules (no clutter in common areas, etc.) I've already sent a message to the board as have a few of my neighbors. I'm looking for ways to either fight this new requirement or solutions that skirt the issue.

Reasons for opposition:
  • Our garbage pick up is just once a week.
  • I do not want to attract vermin and insects into my garage.
  • I walk my dogs and pick up after them 3-4 times a day -- I am averse to carrying the garage door opener on our walks, I am averse to leaving the poop bags outdoors, and I am averse to bringing bags of feces into the garage.
  • I do not want the smell of dog shit permeating my house. Ditto for used kitty litter, chicken and fish remains. I don't make a lot of trash, but it tends to be all smelly sorts that stink worse as they rot for up to a week.
  • This measure will discourage other dog owners in the development from picking up after their dogs, which is already a problem. Let's not add another level of inconvenience to those that do.
  • In the summer months, we have heat and humidity -- the trash will stink no matter how tightly it's bagged. In winter, snow piles up against the garage doors and it's going to be an exercise in futility to get garbage bins out.
posted by vers to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How concealed are they in the alcove? Would anyone really notice if you kept a small one outside for especially stinky stuff?
posted by supercres at 1:36 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What is the process by which the homeowners can override the decisions of the HOA representatives? What does the HOA agreement say about this?

I suspect that your bullet-point of reasons means absolutely nothing. This is all about procedural issues and building a coalition of homeowners who can carry those procedural issues through the HOA decisionmaking process. We likely need to know more about your HOA agreement to understand how to execute that.
posted by straw at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2013 [15 favorites]

Could you put a gate or fence or some such concealing the entrance to the outdoor alcove, so the only way it could be seen was if someone was looking for it?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:44 PM on August 30, 2013

Best answer: This is probably a violation of the fire code. You could call your local fire Marshall and ask them. I KNOW it would be for a commercial/industrial operation (unless it was concrete/steel construction) and probably is for residential as well unless you have a two hour fire rated wall around your garage (unlikely).
posted by bartonlong at 1:54 PM on August 30, 2013 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely check about the fire code, that's something that your HOA will not be able to disregard. Unfortunately, every HOA is different, and some of them can pull this kind of thing easily. If you are not involved with your HOA, now is the time to start getting involved. I know someone who became the HOA president because of something like this.
posted by markblasco at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Fire code was the first thing i thought of(as i've posted before, parents were landlords growing up, bla bla bla).

It's extremely likely that this is illegal. The only places i've lived that had indoor garbage were slumlord shitholes that were breaking 8-9 codes at a time like it was nothing. The kind of places that had no smoke detectors and would just eat the fines.

There's often even codes about where exactly the cans can be in relation to the building. Like how close they're allowed to be to various types of surfaces and windows and stuff. At my current place for example that means they have to be like 6 feet or something from the building, ditto for the place nextdoor.

I'd be willing to bet those outdoor alcoves were specifically designed to meet those types of requirements in your area.

Ignoring the fact that this is the most tiresome kind of HOA bullshit done entirely for cosmetic reasons with no considerations of reality, they likely can't.

Fire department non emergency number time.
posted by emptythought at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster:
I suspect that your bullet-point of reasons means absolutely nothing.

This is true in terms of decisions and I thought I covered that in my preface, but I was clear that the bullets I listed gave my reasons for resisting.

What is the process by which the homeowners can override the decisions of the HOA representatives? What does the HOA agreement say about this?

This is the sort of change to bylaws that would normally need a member vote -- except the board (just two homeowners) is using a very loose interpretation of a definition from the bylaws. There is remarkably little recourse when this shortcut is taken.

I'll be calling the non-emergency line to the fire department early next week re: codes. Thank you to those who suggested that, but being pretty familiar with building codes here, I'm not certain it will come into play here.

Please keep ideas coming.
posted by vers at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2013

FWIW, I have stored my garbage in the garage (in sealed plastic garbage cans) for 10+ years. I take the garbage to the dump myself once a week or so. We've never had a rodent or bug problem associated with the garbage. I live in VA. We have heat and humidity. The problems you are worried about probably don't exist.
posted by COD at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Our bins don't have seals, they weren't designed for indoor use, I don't have a choice of bins, I don't have the option of taking the trash to the dump myself, and I'd like to solve the issue of safely disposing dog feces without opening the garage door multiple times a day. FWIW, the two neighbors who kept their bins inside the garage had massive maggot infestations, and they didn't even have dogs. Teach me your tricks to avoid infestations.
posted by vers at 5:12 PM on August 30, 2013

I'm curious what the consequences would be for disregarding the HOA ruling?
posted by Aleyn at 11:00 PM on August 30, 2013

For a solution that skirts the issue, can you keep the big ugly trash container in the garage per their request, but purchase a smaller, less visible garbage can that might still be able to be kept in the alcove? You can use the outdoor one for dog poop and really stinky items. I would say that with weekly garbage, you shouldn't have too much of an issue with stink and maggots.
posted by hydra77 at 11:04 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd be reluctant to bring dog poop inside, and would probably just keep a covered bucket outside somewhere inconspicuous to hold it while waiting for trash day.

Before waste ever makes it into the trash cans, we treat potentially stinky stuff differently:

*Cat litter gets scooped into a small covered can lined with a plastic grocery bag. The cover contains the stink through the week, and the bag is tied shut and taken to the outdoor can once a week.

*Stink-prone food waste, i.e. primarily leftover animal parts, paper meat wrappers and the absorbent pads from inside foam meat trays, all goes into a plastic bag that we keep in the door of the freezer. We use empty bread bags, zipper bags leftover from cold cuts, etc. When it's time to take out the trash for the week, this frozen, bagged chunk goes in with everything else. It doesn't even have time to fully thaw before it hits the truck, let alone stink or attract rodents or flies.

*Plastic dairy containers and foam meat trays get a quick rinse before going into the trash can.

We also compost so there's no vegetable waste to worry about. It sounds like that may not work in your situation.

If this sounds like a bunch of fussy extra work, consider that we save some time (and plastic waste) by not having to empty the indoor cans until they're full, because they never stink.
posted by jon1270 at 2:48 AM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you decide that a small concealed outdoor trash can might solve some of your complaints, look at what people normally have in their yards - kid toys, large planters, etc - and consider if anything like that is more allowable than a standard trash can.
posted by aimedwander at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2013

Might be a good time for you to begin composting. Does your HOA have any rules about that? IF not, get some biodegradable poop bags, and a compost bin, and cease putting your dogpoop in the garbage.
posted by at at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: I'm writing to update that this motion was overturned at the annual meeting this week due to overwhelming opposition. I mean, I overwhelmingly opposed, but so did a heap of other neighbors. Relief.

I already compost and recycle to the utmost.
posted by vers at 5:02 PM on December 10, 2013

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