After prodding by neighborhood leaders, City Council member Chris Jerram has proposed changes to the city’s garbage collection rules that could cost residents and property owners hundreds of dollars in fines if they keep trash receptacles at the curb.
The city’s rules for when trash cans can sit in the public right of way wouldn’t change. Technically, cans can only sit out from 5 p.m. the evening before collection day through 10 a.m. the day after collection day.
Under the proposal, waste bags and other trash containers would have to be kept at least 20 feet away from public streets and sidewalks during non-collection times. The amendments would bring some serious teeth to the law — violators would face a $100 fine for their first offense and $500 fines for subsequent offenses.
City housing inspectors, who work for the Planning Department, would be authorized to enforce the rules. Those who could prove a hardship or disability that kept them from complying could apply for a special permit from the Public Works Department. Dumpsters would also need special permits to stay in the public right of way and would be allowed to remain only if it would be impractical to move them.
There are some concerns as to how city officials could enforce this.
The law’s apparent split of responsibility between Public Works and Planning could cause some confusion.
“These types of ordinances can be a concern as to how to enforce them,” said Marty Grate, the city’s environmental services manager. “We’re going to need some clarification.”
Enforcement would likely be complaint-driven, officials said. The city lacks the resources required to independently inspect neighborhoods for unlawful trash bins, Grate said.
Jerram says he’s open to creating an “initial period” of written warnings to violators, before resorting to fines. That will have to be addressed by amendment.
Take a look around a few neighborhoods, though, and it’s apparent there’s plenty of Dumpsters that squat permanently near city streets.
Here’s some stuff I heard from Curt Snodgrass, a member of the Blackstone Neighborhood Association:
- “My family enjoys walks around the neighbohoods but there are many apartments and homes converted to apartments that clutter the sidewalks with dumpsters. Needless to say, they’re ugly. They attract graffiti. They attract scroungers. And especially when the weather’s warm, they stink!
Nearly every week, I see dumpster-diving men gathering cans out of dumpsters along the sidewalks. They carry huge plastic bags, bulging with aluminum cans. Sometimes, they scrounge around inside the dumpsters and toss trash out onto the yards or sidewalks, just so they can find cans more easily. That’s a health hazard to the can-gatherers, but a real annoyance to residents and people passing through a neighborhood.
Some landlords will complain, I imagine. But the responsible ones should recognize that their properties will be more appealing to renters if dumpsters aren’t prominently displayed right along their sidewalks. They’ll attract less graffiti and fewer can-gathers if they’re placed at the back of a parking lot, or at least behind the front setback.”