TAMPA - Most of us rely on trash collection from in front of our homes. But what happens when the garbage truck shows up in the middle of the night? For some, all the noise can lead to lost sleep and aggravation.
Grad student Kerri Dickey works as a teaching assistant during the day, then takes her own classes at night and says she relies on a full night’s sleep.
“I need a lot of it,” said Dickey of her rest. “You have to deal with students, have to deal with life and sleep is really important in that.”
But this summer her restful nights suddenly got a lot shorter when trash collection in her USF-area neighborhood started showing up a little too early.
“The first time I ever heard it at 4 a.m., I thought a gun went off,” recalls Dickey.
Even earplugs weren’t enough to keep out all the noise. Kerri says she complained to Waste Management, a company contracted through Hillsborough County, but the overnight collections continued.
“That’s honestly just not right,” said Dickey. “You shouldn’t be picking up trash when the bulk of your people and the bulk of your citizens are asleep.”
Frustrated Kerri called 10Investigates for help. We were there when Waste Management’s truck rolled in at 4:30 on a Monday morning.
The truck emptied out two large metal garbage dumpsters. Making matters worse, Kerri’s complex sits in the middle of several other apartment communities, so after backing out of her complex, we watched as the loud bangs and booming continued across the fence.
“From about 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. it’s like a cacophony of sounds just exploding,” she said.
We took Kerri’s concerns straight to Hillsborough County’s Solid Waste Division.
“Commercial collection can be very loud,” Director Kimberly Byer. “There’s backup alarms, there is banging of dumpsters and we want to avoid that in the residential areas.”
The county confirms commercial trash pick-up is allowed as early as 3 a.m. but not if the dumpster is within 500 feet of a home. Collection close to residential areas like Kerri’s isn't allowed until 6 a.m.
“We knew right away it was a violation of the contract and of county ordinances,” said Byer. "We called and got a little more information on the collection of that unit and Waste Management said 'Yeah, that did happen and we’ll address that.'”
Byer promised the pre-dawn pick-ups would not continue, saying future violations could result in a fine.
“I think it was an overzealous driver really trying to get his route done early, beat traffic," Byer said.. "And that does happen sometimes and when it's brought to our attention we do address it.”