Saturday, December 1, 2012

Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash

On this City Council Agenda for this week, I noticed this.  

10. Solid Waste and Mandatory Garbage and Recycling Collection Ordinance Amendment Bill No. 858-C.S. Recommendation: Waive reading, ready by title only, and adopt Bill No. 858-C.S., an Ordinance of the City of Eureka amending Title V, Chapter 51, inserting Sections 51.34 through 51.38 and renumbering previous Sections 51.34 through 51.37 to Sections 51.39 through 51.42 pertaining to Solid Waste and Mandatory Garbage and Recycling Collection

It is just one more chapter in the saga of the mandatory garbage collection we are forced to pay for in the City and it continues to PISS ME OFF!  I sent this off to the City Council today but doubt it will get any more attention than my concerns did when the previous Council passed the mandatory trash ordinance that made the City of Eureka look like Bin Town.

Dear Mr. Mayor and City Council,
Although I receive the agenda, I admit to being remiss in not following up on this amendment earlier.  It may be too late to make a difference but I have something to say:

This amendment will make it possible for people taking recyclables from the recycling bins to be cited for same.  Here is my problem with this concept:  From my understanding, trash is fair game.  If I have been paying attention to a million episodes of Law and Order, a warrant wouldn’t even be required for police to go through my garbage because it is just that: GARBAGE. 

If the theory here is that the recyclables are OWNED by Recology, I object.  I PAY Recology because the City Council forces me to do business with a private company.  Now, Recology is having the City police PROTECT the recyclables so they can get even more?  What is up with THAT?  And, as I asked the City council members when this was being proposed, how does my husband get the City Council to require HIS business be the only motorcycle shop in town?  Is Recology paying some sort of fee for this pleasure? 

Personally, I produce very little trash.  I pay to have my garbage can emptied of a single small bag of garbage each week.  My recycling bin is put out maybe once in six weeks and is full of cat food cans and wine bottles, none of which are CRV.  BUT, if I put CRV out there and some transient with a need for a pack of smokes is industrious enough to go through it, so be it; it does not belong to Recology until they haul it away.  If someone is looking for a reason to stop the transients, I don’t think protecting the interest of a business that is already being handed a pretty financial package by the residents of this City is the way to do it.

I totally and thorough object to my being forced to pay a private company as it is.  I REALLY object to their financial interests being protected even further by the Police Department.

Yours truly.....

UPDATE:  I had a nice phone conversation with Eureka Deputy Public Works Director, Miles Slattery who was forwarded my letter from one of the Council members (or perhaps ALL of them).  I SWEAR I've exchanged emails with him in the past but...perhaps not.  This conversation was informative for me.  One very important point he made was that the City, as part of their bid contract with Recology, retains the ownership of the items placed in the recycling bins.  Those funds (which last year amounted to $32,000) offset the costs and reduces the rates paid by the residents - that would be ME.  So any removal of items from those bins will not go towards that offset.  He did verify that the contract for trash hauling was put out to bid in 1997 and Recology (previously City Garbage) won the bid by a hefty margin and is reviewed regularly but will not be put out for bid again until 2020.

He did remind me that I could apply for an exemption (which I tried when this started and was rejected) based on my recycling/composting practices and that it likely would be approved.  That process has to be repeated for each fiscal year.  

Truthfully, I've grown to enjoy the convenience of the recycling bins as much as I am agitated by the trash bins so may just have my husband get the exemption at work and have him bring HOME his small amount of shop trash and fill the home can. Mostly, I was impressed by the actual response I got and the adult conversation I had with Mr. Slattery.  When the mandatory trash service was initially implemented, I tried to absolutely no avail to discuss the concepts with the Council members.  I got a stock "thank you for writing" note from Virginia Bass and a two page, unrelated diatribe from Jeff Leonard.  None would respond to my specific concern.  At least the current council had the decency to pawn me off on to a competent City staff member.  


Fred Mangels said...

Good points. I thought I was the only one in town that objected to the mandatory garbage service. I do remember you commenting on not being happy with being forced to do business with a private company, but wasn't sure how far that went.

I wasn't sure what to think about the proposed ordinance. About the best I could come up with was that at least those guys are out scrounging for a "living", and not just sitting in a county provided lodging receiving a check. You have to respect that. I can't imagine giving a guy a ticket for trying to make ends meet.

One thing that does annoy me with them, though, is I notice they often leave the lids of the bins open after they go through them. Seems they do that with the neighbor across the street all the time. That's sloppy, careless and lets rain in on everything which could affect its- at least the paper stuff's- value after they're done rummaging.

Not sure how to deal with that.

Fred Mangels said...

You wrote,...I've grown to enjoy the convenience of the recycling bins....

I'll be the first to admit I enjoy the convenience of them, too. Despite being adamantly opposed to forced garbage and recycling service (still am), I was a somewhat fanatic recycler before it was forced on me. The problem was finding a way to store recyclables while waiting to take them to the recycling center.

Back then you had to separate the plastics. First I tried garbage cans. I believe I had four of them with holes punched in the bottom to let the rain out. That didn't work as all the plastics ended up slimy from soap and other stuff dripping out on to other containers. Then I tried large garbage bags. Same problem with the added hassle of them tearing or falling over, among other things.

I finally settled on paper shopping bags I kept in the garage. They were a hassle, too, as they'd often fall over and spill the contents on the floor. Either that, or stuff would leak from containers, soften the bottom of the bag and the bag would fall apart when you lifted it.

Then there was the same problem when I'd try to load them into the truck and head to City Garbage. Quite a hassle arranging them so the contents wouldn't fall out.

Now it's kind of nice to just have one large bin to toss everything in and forget about until the bin is full.