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Cabbagetown residents up in arms over missed trash collection, arrest threats

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Serious friction has followed switch in trash collection dates in eastside neighborhood

a picture of a trash can on the street
After missed pickups, some Herbie Curbies began to overflow
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

Back in July, Cabbagetown residents were alerted by the Atlanta Department of Public Works that their trash pickup day was changing from Monday to Friday.

No big deal, most thought. Just a different day to drag those Herbie Curbies out to the street.

About a week or two after the shift, however, some Cabbagetown denizens began noticing their trash wasn’t being collected at all, according to the local paper, the Cabbagetown Neighbor.

In some cases, trash was reportedly overflowing from bins and attracting flies for weeks before a waste management truck showed up to dispose of it.

So, some “Cabbageheads”—as the paper calls them—like Katie Butler, president of the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association, began filing complaints with the city’s public works department, hoping to sort the problem out.

Perhaps it was just a scheduling mishap, some residents hoped.

Public works officials subsequently told residents the department was underfunded and under-equipped, according to the publication.

Then things got really strange. In early September, as the Cabbagetown Neighbor reported, “[Atlanta police] officers descended upon Cabbagetown and issued over 50 arrest citations for folks who store containers on public right-of-way past garbage collection date.’”

Some residents were reportedly even robbed of their trash cans after they were left out in the street.

In late September, faced with fines and possible arrests, some Cabbageheads lawyered up and began corresponding with District 5 Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong in hopes of finding recourse.

That’s when the department of public works reportedly backed off.

Public Works Commissioner James Jackson sent letters to residents, telling them not to worry about the arrest citations or court summonses. Many of those ticketed were expected to appear in court October 4.

Some residents, however, are still worried they could be fined in the future for trash-related code enforcement violations, and they’re working with Archibong to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Jackson and Archibong have not yet responded to Curbed Atlanta’s requests for comment.

Full disclosure: The author is a Cabbagetown resident who has been impacted by trash pickup issues but wasn’t cited and hasn’t participated in legal matters associated with the situation.