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Noisy Trash Trucks Awake Residents And Violate City Law By Picking Up Too Early

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's like an alarm clock with no snooze button.

People living near Lamon and Cullom avenues in Portage Park say private trash companies are unloading dumpsters before the crack of dawn, waking them up and violating a city ordinance while they're at it.

"The trucks always wake me up," Georgia Letsos said. "I'm right at the corner so it, like, even shakes my windows."

Residents have awoken to the clanging of the dumpsters, the exhaust of the trucks, and beeping when the drivers are backing out.

"Oh, the 'beep, beep, beep' is the absolute worst," said Sarah Kusar.

Kusar said she regularly hears the noise at 5:45 and 6:30 a.m., but sometimes they show up even earlier.

She's been complaining for months about the Waste Management and Roy Strom trucks.

"I've called the police to make a noise complaint. I have called 311 to make a noise complaint. I've called the alderman's office to make a noise complaint," Kusar said.

It's not just annoying. It's a potential violation.

A city ordinance bans anyone from unloading "garbage cans, dumpsters or similar objects... in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance within a residential district," earlier than 7 a.m. or later than 10 p.m.

"I don't know what to do because I've had very little sleep, or very interrupted sleep" Kusar said.

She sent us videos showing the trucks in her alley before the sun comes up.

"I've been very frustrated," she said.

So CBS 2's Morning Insiders decided to catch the drivers in the act.

Sure enough, around 5:45 a.m. last Friday, a Waste Management truck rumbled into the alley.

"It's not supposed to happen in a residential area earlier than 7 a.m.," CBS 2's Tim McNicholas said to the truck operator. "Were you guys aware of that?"

"I'll check with my bosses again, but I'm pretty sure we're aware of the ordinance," the driver said.

At 6:30 a.m., a Roy Strom truck beeped through the alley.

"I guess there were some noise complaints in the area, and I was wondering if you guys knew if you're supposed to be out here this early?" McNicholas asked.

"I don't know," the worker said before driving away.

And Portage Park isn't alone.

CBS 2's Morning Insiders spotted a Republic Services truck unloading Monday in a residential district in Logan Square at 6:30 a.m.

Kusar said she hopes the city enforces the $300 to $1,000 dollar fines mentioned in the ordinance.

She first reached out to her alderman, Jim Gardiner (45th), back in early September through a Facebook message—at 5:59 a.m. But the trucks kept coming.

"There are ordinances. They are there to protect us," Kusar said, "and we have to ask for them to be enforced."

A spokesperson for Waste Management tells us their routes are designed to comply with the ordinance, but the driver did not stick to his assigned route on Friday. The company held a meeting with their drivers Friday afternoon to remind them to stick to the routes and not skip around.

CBS 2 has also reached out to Roy Strom and Republic. The companies have not responded.

A spokesperson for Ald. Gardiner said the alderman is considering introducing a new ordinance to combat the problem of trash companies picking up too early. The spokesperson said he could not go into details on what the new ordinance would entail.

CBS 2 has also reached out to City Hall to ask whether the ordinance is being enforced and what the city is doing about the problem. We are still waiting to hear back.

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