90-Year-Old Woman Ticketed For Placing Trash Out Too Early - KMSP-TV

90-Year-Old Woman Ticketed For Placing Trash Out Too Early

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Margaret Kulla, 90, tells FOX 29 she is upset after receiving a $50 ticket for placing her trash out too early. Margaret Kulla, 90, tells FOX 29 she is upset after receiving a $50 ticket for placing her trash out too early.
PHILADELPHIA -

In a city where trash-filled neighborhoods have earned it the nickname "Filth-adelphia," it's a story that makes city residents want to tear their hair out.

"Why they picked on me," says Margaret Kulla, " I have no idea."

She's 90-years-old and walks with a cane.

But Kulla is, figuratively speaking, hopping mad!

"The way I'm treated, like I was nothing- just an old piece of you-know-what!"

The elderly Fox Chase woman is talking about the $50 citation she received from the city's Streets and Walkways Education and Enforcement Program-- SWEEP-- for placing her trash out too early.

"They (the trash police) don't know how old I am," Kulla told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon.

And they don't know her circumstances.

Margaret can't get down her back stairs and drag the trash can the 15 feet from her garage to the edge of her short driveway in the back alley she shares with homes on Benson Street.

So, her caretaker, Justine Jean Baptiste, showed us how SHE takes the trash out when she leaves the house around noon each Wednesday-- for the Thursday morning pick-up.

Technically, that's five hours too early. But they've been doing it this way for several years.

Has Margaret ever gotten any kind of warning notice that she was breaking the rules?

"No," she says. "Nothing."

Philadelphia trash collection rules vary by neighborhood.

Generally, trash cans may be put our no earlier than 7 p.m. the night before pick-up. In Margaret's neighborhood they can go out as early as 5 p.m.

The goal is to limit the time the cans sit out, so they don't block the sidewalks for pedestrians.

In fact, Margaret's citation suggests that's the reason for her fine.

But the photo on the citation clearly shows her can sitting on a patch of grass at the edge of her property.

It's not blocking anything.

Her alleyway has no sidewalks-- it's basically a shared driveway.

Margaret says she called the Streets Department to explain her situation.

"So you know what she says? 'I don't care how old you are. This is the rules, and you have to abide by the rules! It's frustrating. Look, I can't throw away $50 just like that. You know what I mean? After all, I'm on a limited income."

FOX 29s Gordon spent much of Wednesday afternoon on the phone with the Philadelphia Streets Department, pleading Margaret's case, and they are not willing to budge.

There's no question the can was put out early.

The clock doesn't lie.

But in this case, there are extenuating circumstances.

And this is the kind of situation that drives Philadelphians crazy: some neighborhoods are buried in garbage, with no apparent enforcement of the rules, while a 90-year-old woman gets a ticket for putting her can out early in a spotless alleyway.

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