City Paper is not for tourists
Marilyn Graves, head of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association’s (DCCA) environmental committee, has given new meaning to “Operation Clean Sweep.” Her sprucing campaign began last spring, when she and her cronies made street signs featuring “Scoop,” a canine that warned residents to curb their dogs. But Graves’ war on grime had only begun. After the city reduced by more than half the number of sanitation inspectors, she and 30 volunteers formed the “Rat Patrol” to help the city nab the trashy element by roving the alleys of Ward 2. Members of the patrol soon discovered that fines for garbage violations were low compared to other cities, so they spurred Councilmember Jack Evans to draft legislation raising base fines from $25 to $35 for private homes, and from $50 to $75 for commercial spaces. Each repeat infraction within 60 days will result in the fines being doubled. “Before, even when an apartment building or restaurant was fined every week, it was a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for cartage,” says Graves. “Sanitation is a cost of doing business, but people are leaving us their mess.” And is Graves squeaky clean? “You should see my desk,” she laughs.