New Organic Waste Collection System Adopted

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By Michelle Millet

On Wednesday, council adopted a plan that will change the way the city collects organic material. The plan will move the city away from a strictly loose-in-the street collection method to one that combines seasonal and  scheduled street pick-up with containerized collection of organic materials.

Staff presented council with the following 4 options, all of which include the distribution of a 95-gallon cart to each residence, allowing for weekly collection of food scraps and other compostable materials along with yard waste:

1) Weekly carts collection only, no loose street pick up

2a) Weekly carts collection plus seasonal street pick up & 4 free on-call pick ups other 10 months.

2b) Weekly cart collection plus seasonal street pick up & quarterly free scheduled pick ups other 10 months.

3) Weekly carts collection plus one free on call pick up (additional will have a fee).

                                                        Summary of Program Options

Option Seasonal Street Pick- up On-Call Pick-Up Weekly Street Sweeping Food Scraps Days of yard material in street Potential Cost (green waste + street sweep)
Existing Yes No Yes No 365 $13.58
1 No No No* Yes 0 $12.26
2A Yes Yes Yes Yes 365 $18.50
2B Yes No Yes Yes 84 $16.40
3 No Yes Yes Yes 365 $17.98

After some discussion council voted to approve a motion made by Brett Lee that slightly varied Option 2(a). Lee’s proposal increased the number of scheduled loose-in-street collection pick-ups from 4 a year to 10.

After questioning DWR about the cost of the different options Lee put forward his proposal, arguing that a plan which offered a higher frequency of available street pick-up would better meet the varied needs of the community without significantly increasing the expense.

Under this plan residents will receive a 95-gallon green waste cart for yard waste, food scraps, and other compostable materials that will be collected weekly on a year-round basis. Loose in the street weekly collection will occur for 2 months of the year, and tentative dates for collection are Oct. 15-Dec 15. For the remaining 10 months of the year one loose-in-street collection day will scheduled. Council advocated for DWR to implement a consistent monthly pick-up schedule in order to minimize confusion.

While several council members acknowledged that increased cyclist safety was one of the benefits associated with a green waste containerization program they wanted to make it clear to the public that this was not the driving force behind this policy change.

Frerichs, Wolk, and Swanson all expressed concern that the city would not be able to renew its storm water quality permit if it continued with a exclusive loose in the street collection method.

Public Works Director Bob Clarke explained that city currently operates under a state-wide general storm water quality permit and the language of the permit requires best management practices. He stated that  ”there are a number of people in the regulatory world who don’t believe that loose pick-up of green waste is the best management practice.”  He predicted that the regional board will soon decide that loose leaf pick-up is no longer an acceptable practice due to its negative impacts on storm water quality.

Mayor Krovoza focused on the composting benefits that a containerization program offers. He emphasized that for the city to reach its 75% waste reaction goal a food scrap collection program is necessary. He stated,  ”We can’t go to composting of food scraps without exorbitantly high cost unless we go to green waste containerization”.

It is uncertain when DWR will be ready to begin implementation of this new organic waste collection system but it seems unlikely that it will occur this year.

Despite this delay, council urged staff  to begin outreach efforts soon to educate the public about the changes that will come with this new policy.

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About The Author

Michelle Millet is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Chair of the Natural Resource Commission.

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98 thoughts on “New Organic Waste Collection System Adopted”

  1. darelldd

    Did anybody else find it a bit odd that each council member seems to have made a point to back-pedal on the bicycle safety issue? It went from the importance of keeping a vulnerable portion of our road users safer to, “people are very concerned about the storm water permit.” Who even knew about the storm water permit until very recently? Certainly nobody I’ve spoken to. And now, after a years-long push to containerization, THAT becomes the most important thing on the public’s mind… and thus all the council members’?

    1. Michelle Millet Post author

      Who even knew about the storm water permit until very recently? Certainly nobody I’ve spoken to. And now, after a years-long push to containerization, THAT becomes the most important thing on the public’s mind… and thus all the council members’?

      It’s not that it became the most important issue, its that it IS the most important and pressing issue. It’s just not the one the public was focusing on.

      The cities ability to obtain a future storm water quality permit does not effect people on a day to day basis, so it doesn’t get the same draw as bike safety.

      1. darelldd

        It just seemed to odd to have the whole CC sort of “take back” what they’d previously said. Especially hard to hear from those who know the reality of the situation from direct, daily experience.

    2. hpierce

      Ironically, leaf piles on the street absorb road oils (first flush), before they get into the storm drains. Typically, the leaf/organic waste that is NOT raked into piles, enter the storm drains more often than those from piles. We have a lot of pseudo-scientists making rules that are, at best, stupid, but also inconvenient and expensive.

      1. Michelle Millet Post author

        We have a lot of pseudo-scientists making rules that are, at best, stupid, but also inconvenient and expensive.

        When these “pseudo-scientists” are making regulatory decisions at the state level the city has little choice but to comply.

      2. darelldd

        From the storm drain angle, I AM having trouble figuring out how piles are worse than unpiled leaves. But we need to get rid of the piles for demonstrable, practical, logical reasons that have nothing to do with science (pseudo or otherwise).

        If oil from the road is a significant concern, we should maybe leave the leaves and remove the gasoline cars.

      1. Don Shor

        Looking at the agenda, unless Brett’s motion modified “Nonfood service commercial: one 95 gallon cart per parcel serviced once per week” then it appears we will have to find a place to store the unused 95 gallon cart so that it doesn’t block parking.
        They really should give residences and businesses an opt-out option. There’s a lot of places where these things simply won’t get used.

        1. Tia Will

          I think that an “opt out” option is a very good one. Those of us who pay others to do our heavy yard maintenance including “take away” will not have need of these bins.
          As Don states there are others that will not have room for them, or as Frankly states will feel so put out for whatever reason that they do not chose to participate. The flexibility to opt out ( while still maintaining the law about not piling your yard waste in the street) would seem to me to be a good compromise.

          1. Michelle Millet Post author

            I said no electronics until you changed your attitude, do I need to talk to your wife?

          2. Frankly

            I don’t think that will work. We are remodeling. I do much of that work as well as do all the cooking. I have leverage. So I get my electronics. And I have A LOT of electronics.

            But I have a smaller house with a small yard. Like a lot of people that live in Davis.

          3. Don Shor

            There are lots of homeowners in Davis who would have no use for this waste bin. And if more people would simply compost their leaves and lawn clippings, in place or in neat piles or in a simple compost pile, even fewer homes would need them. So it will be a very costly and wasteful practice to distribute them to many people. I urge the city and DWR to distribute them one part of town at a time, allow an opt out, pick up the declined bins, and then move to the next section. They could probably reduce their initial cost outlay considerably.

          4. David Greenwald

            This whole issue remains baffling to me, every other city I have ever lived in has containerization, and these problems do not emerge.

          5. Don Shor

            Yes, you keep saying that. Davis has more trees, bigger trees, and more vegetation in general, I’d guess, than the other cities you’ve lived in. Also, you’re not a gardener, have never worked as a landscaper nor as a maintenance gardener. Nor do you actually know that the problems have not ’emerged’ in those cities. You’ve just cited anecdotes about people you know there, like your parents.
            If you want to compare Davis to another comparable city in this regard, I’d look at Woodland. Ask the staff there what they went through in implementing yard waste containerization.

          6. David Greenwald

            Davis doesn’t have anymore trees than suburban St. Louis and when I was growing up, my folks had 15 to 20 trees on their property in San Luis Obispo.

          7. darelldd

            Davis does not have more or bigger trees than where I lived before here. If we are such a special case, we should probably be in the record books somewhere!

            At my previous location, (Santa Venetia area of San Rafael), I survived for 25 years without ANY green pickup. My yard was literally 3x the size of my Davis yard, and produced probably 6x the biomass. Then we went to green containers for the next 15 years (they still have containers, though I now live in the land of the street-dump). At my previous residence I tended to almost everybody’s yard in my large neighborhood. I would charge them to haul the waste, chip it on site, or they would take care of it themselves. Yes, somehow it all got done, and none of it sat in the street. When the carts came along, I did a lot less hauling, but there remained an occasional need.

            There will always be times when the waste won’t fit in the bins for some people. And just like with anything else that can’t be hauled the regular way (toxic waste? Concrete blocks? Extra soil? Sod? lumber scraps? Furniture donations?) sometimes the homeowner has to make arrangements to deal with it. It’s all part of home ownership.

            Davis is special in many ways. Having trees and leaves is not one of them.

          8. darelldd

            There are lots of homeowners in Davis who would have no use for this waste bin.

            I am FULLY onboard with you there, Don. There's no logical reason to NOT have an opt-out that I can think of. With or without this terrible "compromise."

            (one day I'll figure out how you apply those enormous quotes that look way more slick than my carrots)

    1. Michelle Millet Post author

      Don, they didn’t talk about the commercial program to much. On one of the slides it states that Food Service Commercial customers would have one 65 gallon cart picked up twice a week.

    2. darelldd

      And business

      Yeah. Good point that they completely glossed over that. Interestingly enough, some of the most egregious lane-blocking street piles are from commercial properties. Addressing the business-generated green waste is as important as the residential. Sad that they just sort of skipped it.

  2. Davisite2

    This rejection/modification of this plan will be a significant issue in the upcoming Council elections. The Davis voters will have their “say” on this issue at the polls in choosing their new Council reps. Polling has shown that the Davis voters are overwhelming against ending loose-street pick-up . This is a simple issue which directly impacts the voters in a clear and understandable manner.

    1. Frankly

      I think you are full of it. You need to spend more time getting out of your small like-thinking circle and talking to other residents. More will be irritated with the changes, but at least Brett Lee lead with some sense to find a compromise.

      The bike safety issue was a false emotive for the liberal environmental extremists to get their way. Just wait until these bike riders have to navigate thousands of new large plastic carts in their path.

        1. Frankly

          Dang. You are right GI. Thanks for the correction. I missed the word “ending” and went off. My apologies to Davisite2. My morning coffee had not kicked in yet.

      1. darelldd

        The bike safety issue was a false emotive for the liberal environmental extremists to get their way. Just wait until these bike riders have to navigate thousands of new large plastic carts in their path.

        Cyclists are "liberal environmental extremists?" Does your drama know no bounds? Life must be so simple when people can be fit into nice little categories.

        You can claim all day long that you have the right to dump your loose waste onto our public streets. Or that there's just no way to fit another bin into your microscopic yard. Because these are things you know something about, and affect you directly.

        But maybe you should consider refraining from talking about that which you have no knowledge or experience.

        1. Frankly

          “Cyclists are “liberal environmental extremists?”

          I didn’t write that. You did. I said the environmental extremists are exploiting the false bicycle safety issue. Even the city council rejected it is as a valid reasons.

          “But maybe you should consider refraining from talking about that which you have no knowledge or experience.”

          What don’t I have any experience with?

          I have lived in Davis for 36 years and ride my bike all over town.

          I have a single-story 3/2 house on a narrow (55′ wide) lot in West Davis. Come over and I will demonstrate to you that there is nowhere to stow a 95 gallon ugly plastic bin unless it is on my patio or in my garden. That might be good enough for the Davis earthy-types, but not people that care about how their yard looks.

          I hike all over the state and love the outdoors.

          So, again, what exactly do I lack knowledge or experience about?

          1. darelldd

            I said the environmental extremists are exploiting the false bicycle safety issue. Even the city council rejected it is as a valid reasons.

            Ah, sorry for joining the dots inappropriately. I can’t speak for environmental extremists, since I don’t know any personally. (Who are they, exactly? Anybody who likes containerized waste?) But I can speak for myself as a cyclist, and for other regular cyclists that I know and ride with. This is not a “false bicycle safety issue” by any stretch. And your belief is insulting to those who have been injured, and to those who WILL be injured.

            The CC got it wrong (recently, after first getting it right), and that’s what my first question was about at the top of these comments.

            I don’t really care how much room you have in your yard, and I support anybody’s right to opt out of the green cart. I’d rather not store my ugly black garbage can in my yard either. And it would be quite convenient for me to dump my trash into tidy little piles on the street. But we already had this discussion, didn’t we? I don’t need to again hear how “natural” yard clippings are on the pavement.

            I am happy to hear that you’re a cyclist. What you don’t have experience with is commuting year-round, in all light and weather conditions. If you did have that experience, you would not be making comments about “false bicycle safety issues” because those don’t yet exist in regard to loose green waste piles. Do you have friends or family who cycle as their main form of transportation – day and night, summer and winter? Ask them. No sense in hearing it from a stranger that you don’t agree with.

          2. darelldd

            Adding to the experience part: Do you have any school-aged children who ride to school and after-school activities every day? Regardless of weather and lighting conditions? That’s a whole ‘nuther “experience” that will put the safety aspect of loose waste into focus for you better than anything else.

          3. Frankly

            darelldd – see the image at the top of this blog article. There is a car parked in the same space as the green waste pile. I don’t understand you point that the green waste is a safety issue. I would think the car and the risk that the door will open is a much larger safety issue. Yet you are not demanding we stop parking cars on the street, are you?

            Is the issue that some people make piles that are too large… larger than a parked car for example? In that case just make the ordinance such that people have to keep the piles limited to some dimensions.

            Again, I agree that on streets where there is no room for parking, there should also be no allowance for curbside green waste pickup.

            I just think you and others have convinced yourself that green waste is a problem and you are irrational in opposition. If you can explain to me what the real problem is related to bike safety, I might change my mind. But as someone that rides a bike to and from work periodically (from West Davis to downtown and back) I never ever have any problems with green waste getting in my way or causing me any safety issues. I am more likely to get sandwiched in between traffic and a parked car. In fact, I might value having a softer pile of green waste to land in should a car crowd me too far.

          4. darelldd

            We’ll start with the above image… The pile and the car are both endangering cyclists. Especially our younger cyclists. They are both sitting illegally in the bike lane, and force cyclists out into the traffic lane right before a busy intersection. I know this about that image because I live on the road pictured. I AM demanding that we also not park cars in the bike lanes, yes.

            If piles were only put into car parking spaces, AND if they were all neat and tidy, with defined edges and covered with shiny reflective material (like a car, for example, or even a green bin) then we’d have much less – if any – issue. That that’s not the case, Frankly.

            We already have an ordinance to prevent oversized piles. We already have an ordinance to prevent piles placed in the bike lanes. We already have an ordinance that says the piles can’t be out there for longer than a day. And none of these are enforced, and all of them are ignored. Piles end up blocking the entire bike lane for days at a time. They’re of random sizes, and even if you can see the bulk of the pile, you often can’t see the last twig that hangs out another two feet and gets tangle in your front wheel as you try to avoid that car in the traffic lane crowding you to the side. In the daylight, waste piles can often be avoided by swerving into the traffic lane (no problem, right?) but at night and in the wet, these things become slippery and invisible – doesn’t matter how good your headlight is. Cars don’t see them either. But nobody loses skin or breaks bones when they drive over a pile.

            I have convinced myself of nothing. Every skilled, experienced, daily cyclist I know (including myself) has had at best a close call, and at worst several (some severe) injuries from yard waste piles. (you should hear what visiting cyclists have to say about this!) I’m not making this stuff up, Frankly. It is you who is convincing yourself that the eyesore and inconvenience of a green bin is a bigger problem than very real safety issues that cyclists face. Removing loose green waste doesn’t solve everything, but it is one obvious and real threat that we can remedy. Cars and bins are easier to avoid (yes, even if they are illegally in the bike lane) than are loose piles. You don’t seem to realize this, or accept this reality. It seems nothing gets your attention on this issue beyond the aesthetic issue – even as you manage to get through every day with your plastic garbage cart.

            I would be OK with a pilot program to test loose piles being confined only to the traffic lanes.

            The “real problem related to bike safety” is that cyclist have been, and likely will continue to be injured (some severely) due to piles of loose green waste in the street. There is no official channel to report these incidents, so sadly, there are no hard statistics that I can share with you. All I can give you is the reality of the situation through the eyes of a family that uses bicycles for transportation.

          5. darelldd

            Again, I agree that on streets where there is no room for parking, there should also be no allowance for curbside green waste pickup.

            We’re in agreement here. However, there is no such ordinance. And green piles are placed directly in the path of cyclists who have no option but to swerve into traffic to avoid them. During waste pile season, give 5th street East of the police station a try. Then come back on the north side of Second street and see how that works for you.

    2. Michelle Millet Post author

      Polling has shown that the Davis voters are overwhelming against ending loose-street pick-up .

      Council did not have much choice on this issue, this is coming from the state water board. Storm water regulation regarding what is considered “best practices” are tightening up. The exclusive loose-in-the-street collection method we practice now, will soon not fall into “best practices” category, and it is doubtful that we would have been able to renew our storm water permit if we continued with this current practice.

    3. Michelle Millet Post author

      The Davis voters will have their “say” on this issue at the polls in choosing their new Council reps.

      When voters goal to polls I hope they focus on how council members and candidates make their decisions, not just on how these decision effect them personally. I’d prefer council members not solely base their decision on
      public opinion, especially when renewal of our storm water permit is at stake.

      As a side note my friend told me that a council member visited the home of her neighbor, who had concerns about containerization, in order to gain better understand the citizens concerns. I hope voters keep actions like this in mind, not just the ultimate decision that was made, when they have their “say” at the polls.

  3. Frankly

    No cart will be allowed at Frankly’s house. The seasonal and on-call pickups will have to work until I am finally irritated enough to move away.

    1. Michelle Millet Post author

      Okay Frankly, my kids are out of town for a week and I need to keep my lecturing skills sharp. So hear it goes…

      You are acting very spoiled young man

      You know when I was a kid no one came around and picked up our yard waste at all, much less allowed us to throw it into the street whenever we felt like it. Why is this okay anyway? We are not allowed to leave our garbage bins and recycling bins in the street all week, but you are saying you should have the right to just dump yard waste in the street anytime its convenient for you, despite negative impact on others?

      You want the city to continue a practice that will hurt it chances of obtaining a storm water permit and keep it from cost effectively implementing a food scrap collection program, which would allow us to divert up to 30% of our solid waste from the landfill, just so you don’t have to store a cart!?!

      I think you need to get your priorities straight young man. I want you to go to your room and think about your behavior. No electronics! When you are ready to discuss how this issue effects our entire community and not just your storage constraints you can come out.

      1. Frankly

        Wow! Michelle’s kids, please come home. Your mom needs someone else to lecture other than me!

        Actually, I can take it… sort of.

        I don’t believe that green waste constitutes a storm water issue since storm water naturally sheds from plat material. I think it is more likely that people will stop raking leaves into neat piles and let them naturally decay and wash into the gutters and storm drains.

        I absolutely do not have room to store a 95 gallon cart on my property to use six times a years at most. I think there a lot of people that don’t have room. Or if they do have room, don’t want to have their hard earned beautiful garden and landscape be accosted with the sight of a big 95 gallon plastic socialist device.

        First it was bike safety. Then it was not.

        Then it was storm drainage problems. Until it will be not.

        Those that like to control everyone else start with the proposal to control, and then work hard to backfill with manufactured justification.

        1. Michelle Millet Post author

          I don’t believe that green waste constitutes a storm water issue since storm water naturally sheds from plat material

          Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what the state water board thinks. It seems they will soon decide that exclusive loose-in-the-street collection is not a “best practice”, and if we continue with this practice we will not be able renew our permit.

          1. Realist

            If the state water board doesn’t renew the storm water permit will we not be allowed to have storms?

          2. Michelle Millet Post author

            I’m not sure what the consequences would be if our storm water permit was not renewed, my guess is that a large fine is involved.

            So how would feel about a council that knowingly did not change a practice that threatened our ability to renew the permit out of fear of making the public mad? Is this how policy decisions should be made?

          3. Realist

            Honestly, I would be proud of a council that stood up to some of the bureaucratic nonsense that comes from the baffling amount of regulators in Sacramento.

          4. Michelle Millet Post author

            Even if it resulted in a lawsuit that could cost the city thousands to millions of dollars in legal fees?

        2. Michelle Millet Post author

          I absolutely do not have room to store a 95 gallon cart on my property to use six times a years at most.

          That is your problem, and there is a solution, don’t take a cart.

          1. Frankly

            That is a real solution, and I like real solutions even if I hate that the problem was manufactured from the basis of idiocy.

          2. Don Shor

            It is still not clear to me that homeowners or businesses can decline to take a cart.

          3. Don Shor

            The question is whether we have to keep the container, or can ask DWR to take it back. We are limited for space in the garbage spot we share with the neighboring building. It adjoins our handicapped parking space. I do NOT want things crowding into that space. So if it won’t be used, it shouldn’t be here.

          4. darelldd

            NO way! I want it.

            What amuses me… and that I haven’t mentioned… I already own two extra (beyond my garbage can) 95 gallon bins that I store in my yard and use to haul stuff around and out to the street. If I can get an extra one for free, I’m all in! Matt can buy his own.

        3. Tia Will

          Frankly

          A couple of points about your position.
          1) You do not seem to recognize that your “private” actions force others into changes in their behavior. If you have placed your large yard waste in a “public
          space” namely the street, you are in effect forcing bicyclists and motorists to change their behaviors ( where they can safely bike, and where they can park) to suit your personal convenience. If you were to store these piles on your private property, fair enough, you are not forcing others into any action. Not so if you choose to use the street as your private repository. You frequently complain about others “telling you what to do” and you do not acknowledge that your actions may be “telling others what they can and cannot do”.
          2) You have made a claim that is patently not true. This is not a matter of “First it was bike safety and then it was not.” It is possible for more than one factor to affect decisions. I know that you are capable of understanding the multifactorial nature of many issues since I have spoken with you directly. You are just not choosing to acknowledge that in this instance.

          1. Frankly

            Don’t be silly. What is the difference if a car is parked in the space, or there is green waste “parked” in that space? The bike or pedestrian still cannot walk where the car is parked.

            You are making up arguments without thinking them through.

            Now, I agree that if there is no parking there should be no green waste allowed. The people that live on streets where there is no room to park a car should be made to use green waste containers. Too bad, so sad.

            However, that green waste container is still a hazard sitting in the gutter.

            Do you want to deny that point?

          2. darelldd

            What is the difference if a car is parked in the space, or there is green waste “parked” in that space?

            Asked (by you). Answered (by me) during the last thread on this same subject. The logical answer remains the same. And while you might do plenty of thinking on the subject, you clearly have no experience with it. Do you care to see the answer again, or is you message only mean to incite?

          3. Frankly

            I posted this before your responses. Geeze… don’t get so easily irritated.

            I get your passion on this topic. Truthfully, if had more room in my small yard I would have less of a problem. I can see from a prolific biker perspective that having crap on the sides of streets would be irritating. And if I let myself think about it too much, my senses would be assaulted by the piles all over the city.

            But I have a strong libertarian streak. And FORCING me to accept a BIG NEGATiVE IMPACT to my lifestyle only so you have LESS OF A (dubious?) IMPACT to your lifestyle is not cool.

            But start throwing out the difficulty of kids biking around town and I can accept some impacts. But I REALLY don’t have room. And if I move to another property in Davis I will pay another $10k per year in property taxes since I would have to move next to Matt.

          4. darelldd

            I posted this before your responses. Geeze… don’t get so easily irritated.

            No you did not post it before my answer. Your same question, and my response were from a thread from at least a week ago (what I called the “last thread.”) Nothing to do with what I’ve posted in the comments to this article.

            I appreciate you seeing the light if ever so slightly. That you call my concern “dubious” and a “lifestyle” impact is, I guess, a handy way to diminish its significance. Especially when you are comparing your sense of aesthetics with a quantifiable and obvious safety issue.

            I should stick with children. You may not care about MY personal safety… but there is nothing dubious about forcing our school kids out into the traffic lane. I’m glad to hear some compassion and concern there.

            I have no desire to tarnish your lovely yard. I only ask that you don’t keep pushing for making travel unsafe for our most vulnerable road users. And to please stop categorizing anybody who wishes to make our streets safer as crazy zealots with nothing but nefarious agendas on our minds.

            Clearly I’m quite passionate about this. It is a huge deal for me – not at all because I wish to bend all Davis residents to my will. But ONLY because I want our roads safer for all users. Somebody else is going to have to worry about our storm drains. That’s not my thing.

            You don’t want a green can. I don’t want broken up cyclists.

          5. Frankly

            You don’t want a green can. I don’t want broken up cyclists.

            A bit of hyperbole, but I get your point.

            I was thinking about the genesis of this conflict, and it is much to do with the inability of a large percentage of voters in this town to either understand or take responsibility for the consequences of their demands.

            I was doing some reading about the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, and what I noticed is the existence of wider streets, wide bike lanes and many bike paths.

            From this it is clear to see that the demand to keep Davis so damn dense and compact is a big contributor to this constant bike safety challenge. The green piles are a bigger risk not because of the green piles, but because there is no room to ride. Narrow streets. Small lots. High density population. Retail crammed into primarily a single downtown location.

            Then many of these same people support a governor that kills RDA to thank his teacher union benefactors… and we lose a valuable tool that we could use to improve our biking infrastructure.

            Davis wants to be more bike friendly, but as we approach Berkeley population density, it is likely to get more difficult rather than less difficult to increase our bike friendliness.

            Frankly, I view the level of your demonstrated frustration with green piles as a bit incongruous with the actual calculation of biker impacts… and I think your overall frustration with biking in this town as spilling over and amplifying something that would otherwise be considered an inconvenience.

            But the biking community needs to start breaking out of their old paradigms about Davis biking, and contemplating the bigger picture. The nickel and dime outrage approach is not really going to get us any closer to biking nirvana.

          6. Don Shor

            Then many of these same people support a governor that kills RDA to thank his teacher union benefactors… and we lose a valuable tool that we could use to improve our biking infrastructure.

            What a spectacular irrelevance!
            Quick (maybe someone else can help you locate the figures): how much “biking infrastructure” was in the works for our RDA funds when they got sequestered? Is this going to be your latest bugaboo in every thread, the terrible loss to our community of the RDA funds? Are we going to hear you blame Jerry Brown for every little thing that Davis ‘could’ afford if we only had those old RDA funds? I really do like the pedestrian bulbouts that were built in the downtown and all the nice landscaping that was done around them. But I really think there are probably other good uses for those funds now.
            If biking infrastructure is important, then the bike commission can identify the specific needs and present it to the city council. Then, in public session, agendized, and allowing for public comment, the council can decide from the usual budget process whether to allocate funds for specific bike projects.
            The loss of the RDA funds did nothing to prevent or delay any biking infrastructure.

          7. darelldd

            But the biking community needs to start breaking out of their old paradigms about Davis biking, and contemplating the bigger picture. The nickel and dime outrage approach is not really going to get us any closer to biking nirvana.

            I agree. Can we count on your support of the cheapest (free! In fact a reduced cost to what we’re paying right now) most effective solution to bicycle safety? Will you help us close down streets to automobile traffic? You are correct that green piles are not the problem. It is merely something that can be fixed right now while everything else remains frustratingly the same. The only (only!) genuine danger to cyclists is automobile traffic. Thanks for taking the long view that so few people do.

          8. Don Shor

            When I was a student at UCD, I didn’t use a bike. I was a pedestrian. I can tell you for certain that the greatest threat to pedestrians such as myself was the bicycles. They were everywhere! Going really fast, and paying no attention to those of us who were trying to cross the streets and get safely to our classes. So we need to close streets to bicycle traffic as well. Then we’ll all be really safe.
            Wrenching my tongue back out of my cheek now…

          9. darelldd

            (we’re crammed into the right margin here, so I can’t officially reply to your comment any longer… sorry!)

            I hear you, Don. Totally valid point. Those folks put other cyclists and pedestrians at risk. Since we’re on that subject, I find that unaware pedestrians in the campus streets and round-a-bouts are probably tied with unaware/unskilled cyclists in risk to me as a cyclist on campus. Dealing with students on campus is a whole different deal that we can’t control from the city side though, of course. Our biggest problem of unlit cyclists comes from campus as well.

            One thing I like to point out to anybody who (justifiably) complains about tons of cyclists endangering them. Just imagine for one moment what the campus situation would be like if every one of those students on bikes were instead behind the wheel of a car.

        4. Michelle Millet Post author

          Those that like to control everyone else start with the proposal to control, and then work hard to backfill with manufactured justification.

          This is not about the city trying to control you.

          The fact of the matter is that allowing people to place yard waste in the street when ever they find it most convenient is not an acceptable practice, I’m not sure why it was ever considered to be one. At the very least people should have had to wait until the night before like they do with trash/recycling receptacles.

          Even aside from storm water permitting issues, this practice comes with significant disadvantages and moving away from it comes with significant advantages that in my mind out way the disadvantage that come with finding room to store a cart.

        5. growth issue

          Frankly,
          “Those that like to control everyone else start with the proposal to control, and then work hard to backfill with manufactured justification.”

          Like Davis Nugget plastic bags somehow making it all the way to the ocean?

        6. darelldd

          don’t want to have their hard earned beautiful garden and landscape be accosted with the sight of a big 95 gallon plastic socialist device.

          Nor do I want my street accosted with the site of loose "I don't care how it effects others" waste.

          1. Frankly

            One man’s “accosted” is another man’s “normal”.

            I will take piles of green waste any day over a large wheeled container of some obnoxious color made from petroleum by-products… especially when that green waste pile goes away and the large, ugly, container takes up a permanent location in every yard.

          2. darelldd

            One man’s “accosted” is another man’s “normal”.

            Indeed, that was my point.

            I understand what “you will take.” I’ve heard it several times. And for the record, I will take the safety of our town’s residents over your aesthetic opposition to green carts.

            (note that I agree with the option for opting out of the cart. But will not agree that loose piles of waste should be on our streets)

  4. fildogg

    Great, so now instead of yard waste sitting in the street for a week, it will sit around for a month (note the # of days of yard material in the street on the table). Do you think the hundreds of yard-care companies that roam the streets of Davis are going to trim the bushes based on street pick-up dates? No, they will do it when they have an extra 5-minutes as always.

    If this were really a sewer-issue, they wouldn’t allow any debris in the street at all during the entire Oct-Mar rainy season, it just doesn’t make any sense. The storms don’t come based on yard-waste pickup days. Finally, instead of reducing costs and cleaning up the streets as option 1 would have done, we now also have a 50% increase in costs. Option 1 could have also added a drop-off time for people to deposit their excess yard waste, which I agree is needed. Good job in compromising so that the only people satisfied are those who want to continue dump their yard waste in the streets at will. The bicycling community won’t like this (so much for this being a bicycle-centric community), nor will the “I-can’t-possibly-fit-another-waste-container-into-my-yard” people like this option.

    Now that I’m done ranting, I’m hoping that what really happens is that people get used to using their containers, the on-street yard waste pickup crews find they are mostly driving around the city not picking anything up and it eventually gets phased out altogether. The problem is that you have given people and lawn care companies the ability to do what they have always done, deposit the yard waste in the street, so that is probably what they are going to continue to do. Oh yeah, and dog walkers….stop putting your dog waste bags on the yard piles!!! (Yes, only 2% of dog walkers to this, but come-on)

    1. darelldd

      Sadly, I can find nothing to disagree with here. To make this “compromise” work at all will require enforcement – something that hasn’t happened in all the years I’ve been here.

      Good job in compromising so that the only people satisfied are those who want to continue dump their yard waste in the streets at will.

      Indeed.

  5. Michelle Millet Post author

    Great, so now instead of yard waste sitting in the street for a week, it will sit around for a month (note the # of days of yard material in the street on the table).

    You are only going to be able to put yard waste out a certain number of days in advance of collection. I think with the method they adopted will result in 140 days of yard waste in the street.

    If this were really a sewer-issue, they wouldn’t allow any debris in the street at all during the entire Oct-Mar rainy season, it just doesn’t make any sense.

    My guess is that there are some people at the water quality board that agree with you. It really is sewer-issue. The problem right now is the language in the permit is a vague “must follow best practices”, and currently loose-in-street collection in conjunction with street sweeping qualifies as a best practice. This may not be the case for much longer. In the meantime reducing the number days yard waste in on the street by half will move us in the right direction.

    My hope it that people will use their cart first, and only put waste in the street when cart is full, or material are too large to fit. Resulting in less over leaf debris in the street even when it is technically allowed.

  6. Don Shor

    We ran a landscape service for two decades. That included installation, yard cleanups, and pruning services. In the winter we pruned fruit trees for 50 to 100 customers in a two-month period. I also did on-site consultations, average 2 to 3 per week, year-around, all over Davis.

    That means we worked in hundreds of yards, and I have visited thousands of yards in nearly every part of Davis.

    On an average pruning job we would generate 3 to 5 DWR-size branch piles. You can’t cut branches readily into waste bins. A yard cleanup would generate 5 to 10 piles or more, mostly prunings which, again, you can’t cut readily into waste bins.

    We were small landscapers. Like most others of our size, we didn’t have (nor could we afford) vehicles suitable for taking large amounts of yard debris to the dump in a single run. I have no problem with charging the customer for 5 to 10 runs to the dump, but it was much more cost-efficient and fuel-efficient to have DWR picking up the debris we created. We would call for special pickups in some situations, and bill the customer. In El Macero, we would try to arrange our work around the DWR pickup days in compliance with their CCNR’s.

    The reality is that in many neighborhoods it will not be simple or even possible to deal with a lot of yard waste via containers. I could easily identify those neighborhoods for you. In some, they will work. In some, they will be unnecessary. If the program doesn’t allow owner opt-out, it will be wasteful. If it doesn’t allow for seasonal and periodic street pick-up, it will be inefficient and unworkable. Just ask Woodland.

    I would say Brett’s modification is a reasonable compromise. I’d add the opt-out provision. But as usual, I find Brett to be a pragmatic and effective councilmember.

  7. Michelle Millet Post author

    I just texted my resident environmental permitting expert, who is in Florida with our children visiting family the following questions:

    Me: What would be the consequences to the city if their storm water permit was not renewed?

    Resident Expert: They would be in violation of the Clean Water Act

    Me: And what consequences would that have for the city?

    Resident Expert: They could be sued by the EPA or some NGO to get a permit resulting in thousand to millions in lawyer fee’s and fines. (He added a picture of the fish my son just caught but that is not really relevant).

    As I stated in the piece Public Works Director Bob Clarke advised staff that if we continue with an exclusive loose-in-the-street collection method we would jeopardizing our ability to renew our storm water permit.

    Given this set of circumstances I don’t see how a move to partial containerization of green waste can be avoided.

    That being said from what I observed council put significant thought effort into coming up with a policy that attempts to meet the needs of the community at large, and I agree with Don that Brett’s modification offers reasonable solution to those who generate large amounts of yard waste.

    1. Don Shor

      Yeah. This is hyperbole. What they do is put a conditional use on the permit, and the city has to show progress toward compliance. And if they don’t, then you get (after months and months, more likely years) to a cease-and-desist situation, which is where Dixon found itself. Of course, some NGO could always sue. Anybody could sue about anything. You could sue. But the question is whether you are likely to do so, or likely to prevail. If you have any instances of the EPA suing over brush collection in streets, please post them. Otherwise, I would say you are overstating the risks and costs.

      I question your resident expert’s analysis.

      1. Michelle Millet Post author

        I asked a very black and white question, he gave me a black and white answer.

        To clarify I did not ask him about brush in the street. I asked him what could happen if the city failed to renew its storm quality permit. (he actually has no idea what the context of the question is).

        The point is that while this change might not be necessary at this moment it is something the city is going to have do in the near future if they want to avoid being violation of the Clean Water Act.

        I think its more prudent to be proactive then wait until we are in violation to make the transition to partial containerization. You don’t agree?

    2. Realist

      Are you now saying we are in violation of the Clean Water Act? If we in CA are in violation then I would think the EPA would have it’s hands full with most, if not all, of the other states. Should we try to anticipate what every single gov’t agency from city, state and federal may do in the near and distant future and mitigate for that potential? I say we go the course of Dixon and then mitigate, if necessary, based on actual fact rather than potential. After our new, brave city council puts makes the appropriate protests and passes resolutions of course.

      1. Michelle Millet Post author

        Are you now saying we are in violation of the Clean Water Act?

        We are not currently in violation of the Clean Water Act but if our storm water permit is not renewed we will be (it is a federal offense to discharge storm water without a permit.)

      2. Michelle Millet Post author

        Should we try to anticipate what every single gov’t agency from city, state and federal may do in the near and distant future and mitigate for that potential?

        Council was advised by staff that if they did not take action it was likely that are storm water quality permit would not renewed.

        In this scenario my answer to your question it yes. I think it is most prudent to be proactive.

          1. Michelle Millet Post author

            My analysis or staffs?

            I’m basing my argument on what Bob Clarke told to council at Wed. meeting, and on comments made by Rochelle, Dan, and Lucas on this topic.

  8. rogerbockrath

    Has no one populating this thread considered the ever increasing profits of DWR as a possible motivating factor in this drop in service/increase in fees scenario. Under the new system DWR will experience a hugh reduction in costs to run the claws while receiving a huge increase in fees charged to residential customers. The city just got through granting them an increase in garbage hauling fees. Maybe it’s time for the city council to do something that benefits the folks who pay the bills in this town instead of the millionaire franchise holders.

    I have absolutely no use for yet another ugly plastic container on my property. I compost all six cubic yards of leaves from my many trees (including my “city tree” which they have never maintained and will now be removed to cut back on the back breaking work involved in reducing limbs to small pieces to be crammed into a 95 gallon tub) I also compost all my kitchen scrap for use in soil amendment. If the city removes grass clippings from the street I will now have no source for nitrogen to balance the carbon from those six cubic yards of leaves I compost yearly. Perhaps they will also add wording to allow for provision of grass to those of us who will no longer be able to gather from the sterile streets.

    I would be interested in learning the identities of those individuals on the water state quality control board who think that maybe using a claw and street sweeper to remove thousands of cubic yards of green waste may not be considered best possible practice . First the reason to take away one of the best services provided to Davis residents was bicycle safety. That didn’t fly, so it then became maybe they will not renew our storm water permit. And because even stupid people know that it is not going to stop raining to comply with overzealous rule making bureaucrats, they threw in the kitchen waste recycling thing.

    So the city council voted to increase our fees, reduce our services dramatically and increase profits for their buddies at DWR ,one more time. By the way, who voted for this boondoggle and who voted against it? That will become important information come voting day.

  9. Davisite2

    ”there are a number of people in the regulatory world who don’t believe that loose pick-up of green waste is the best management practice.” He predicted…..”

    Bob Clarke’s quote DOES NOT offer a fact but rather his “prediction”. “There are a number of people in the regulatory world……” is a very “squishy” argument to declare that there is an serious and immediate threat to our storm water drainage permit. There will undoubtedly be more loose leaves in the streets, not piled, washed into the storm drains . A carpet of wet slippery leaves can be a greater danger to braking and turning bicycles l than an avoidable leaf pile. City staff and Council have a history of arguing the threat of State threats and penalties and “deadlines” which have repeatedly been overblown if not outright false. One example that comes to mind was the State “threat” of penalties if Davis did not meet its “fair share” housing number which was used by Saylor’s Council to argue for Whitcomb’s Covell Village project. Never happened to Davis or any other city that failed to meet its fair-share housing number, as far as we could learn at that time.

  10. Don Shor

    From the city staff report, as posted in the agenda:

    “Storm Water Permit Issues

    The current Statewide General permit does not require green waste containerization, however it does require us to review BMP’s for green waste (among other potential contaminants) in 2016.

    It is likely that our current practices (street sweeping and catch basin clean ups) would fall short of the goal to reduce pollutants to the most practicable level.

    The draft permit originally required containerization but stakeholder comments were successful in reducing it to the review of BMP’s.

    The recent discussions regarding a Regional MS4 permit are continuing and we are actively participating and keeping up to date on the status. This permit may be considered for adoption as early as January 2015. The City is only required to be covered under one permit so participation in the Regional permit is not mandatory but may prove to be fiscally beneficial to us. It is too early to make that determination.”

  11. Biddlin

    Who got the contract for containers? Are they being delivered by an outside logistics company?
    So much room for real graft and corruption here.

  12. Davisite2

    By the way, who voted for this boondoggle

    David…. it would save us considerable time searching for the answer to this question if you would just post the votes of the Council members on this issue.

  13. darelldd

    Dear Frankly – I’m putting this response way out here so it doesn’t get all skinny. Over the last month you have asked the same question (why are parked cars different than green piles?) four times on three different threads. I have answered it all four times. And others have answered as well. You most recently asked it in the comments section of this thread. I will answer it once again here, just for the record, and in hopes that you will read it. Thanks for your attention!

    >> Frankly asked in Jan, Feb and March: If a car is parked there instead of a pile, what is the difference to school children riding a bike. This complaint makes no sense.

    >> Moments later Frankly asked: How is green waste more of a hazard than the cars parked on that same street?

    >> Today, Frankly asked: What is the difference if a car is parked in the space, or there is green waste “parked” in that space? The bike or pedestrian still cannot walk where the car is parked.

    Darell answers, again: First I will summarize right up front, then fill in the details below:
    Cars are obvious, of consistent size, shiny and reflective, and consistently parked at the curb – rarely in the bike lanes. Green piles are NONE of those things, making them hard to see, hard to predict, hard to avoid and are often directly in cyclists’ prescribed path of travel – IN THE BIKE LANE.

    The visual hazard of green piles becomes most obvious at night: Cars are big, at eye-level, and are full of reflective material. Green piles are usually low (sometimes just a few inches high, in fact) and non-reflective. Cars conform to a predictable size and shape, while piles of yard waste do not. It is simple as this: parked cars are easy to see, green waste piles are not – *especially at night.* As an example for non-cyclists: People inadvertently drive their cars over and through yard waste piles regularly. Rarely, do they accidentally drive into parked cars. The problem isn’t only visual, however. Cars are rarely parked in the bike lane, while green piles are REGULARLY put into, or at least spill into the bike lane. So even if the piles can be easily seen during the day, the hazard in this case (day OR night) is having to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid the pile. Something cyclists don’t have to do as often for parked cars. Additionally, if I run over a car with my bike (does that sound a bit silly?) it is not a slippery situation. If I roll through a pile of wet, slimy leaves, I suddenly have no traction. It isn’t that I have lots of love for parked cars, but they’re MUCH easier to avoid than green piles.

    A final compelling point is that car drivers can also see parked cars more easily than they can see piles of green waste in the bike lanes. If a cyclist has to swing out of the way of a parked car, the other road users understand this and can predict the behavior. If nobody sees the pile until the cyclist swerves into the traffic lane at the last moment to avoid it, everybody is surprised, and it puts everybody in a more dangerous situation.

    My daughter rides her bike to school every day, as do 250 of her classmates (thousands total across the city). And my daughter must use some streets to get to and from school. The piles that are routinely dumped into the bike lane, force her out into car traffic. In the three years that she has ridden her current commute, neither one of us has ever seen a car parked in the bike lane that would force her into the traffic lane (mostly because her route is in bike lanes that are bordered by red curbs (5th Street East of the Police station where there is no legal parking). Parked cars can cause other problems, but they are nowhere near the hazard of the waste piles that are any shape and size, composed of a variety of materials, and plunked just about anywhere on the pavement that’s convenient for the plunker.

    Thanks for reading! I’ll save this off for next time.

    1. DavisBurns

      Seems like you should try to get enforcement of the prohibition against green waste in the bike lanes until the container system is in place. Who would issue tickets? Police? Have you talked to the city council about enforcement?

      1. darelldd

        Seems like you should try to get enforcement

        On numerous occasions, I have spoken with our city’s Active Transportation Coordinator, I have spoken with our Code Enforcement Officer, I have spoken with our police department, I have spoken with the businesses and residents who pile waste illegally, and I have spoken with our City Council. Net result for my efforts: zero incentive for compliance.

        What struck me this evening is that I don’t “want” containerization. The only “want” i have in this situation is for no manufactured piles of debris to be in the bike lanes or in the roadways. I simply see no way to accomplish this, other than containerization.

  14. Frankly

    “Can we count on your support of the cheapest (free! In fact a reduced cost to what we’re paying right now) most effective solution to bicycle safety? Will you help us close down streets to automobile traffic?”

    I support migrating the downtown away from this irrational view that it can be a full-service retail center for a city of 66,000 plus another 10,000 campus residents. Then I support closing some blocks to auto traffic. I would like to see us convert G street between 2nd and 4th, and/or F street between 1st and 4th, into a pedestrian promenade and redeveloped for more retail… but focused on boutique shopping, food and entertainment, and more office.

    But then what about the train depot?

    And what about the fact that our hardware and lumber store is also in that location?

    What about the fact that the downtown is surrounded by residential on three sides, and people need pass-through streets.

    I would like to see a nice boutique hotel downtown at G street. How is that going to be done without RDA? How is any redevelopment going to get done without RDA?

    There is a lot of things I would like to see us do citywide including making Davis more bike and pedestrian-friendly.

    But the vision for a future Davis as a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city is severely constrained by the inability to redevelop and to develop peripherally.

    So, you are left to yell at piles of green waste.

    1. darelldd

      So, you are left to yell at piles of green waste.

      It isn’t the piles of green waste that I’m mad at. 🙂

      As for the rest of it – the train, the residential, the hardware store – none of it screams “we need cars in the downtown core area.” It doesn’t even rate a whisper. It isn’t money we need. It is the understanding of the benefits that we need. But now we’re way off-topic. And I at least TRY to avoid that.

      I enjoy the notion that we’re finding at least a tiny sliver of middle ground here.

      1. Frankly

        The problem you have… as long as you are including retail that sells products that require a car or truck, you cannot block off auto traffic to those retail locations.

        As long as you have a train depot at the back-end of the downtown, you cannot block off auto-traffic to reach it.

        Question…

        Can you point me to a US city that supports biking and bike safety in a model that you desire?

        Note that I would probably ride a bike more often to and from work if it was safer and less auto-centric. I am cool with that vision. What I am not cool with is trying to force a square peg in a round hole. In other words, demanding more bike friendliness and safety without a city design that supports it.

        1. darelldd

          The “problems” you mention are all easy enough to solve. We’ve got some smart people around. All we really have to do is understand the need. Cars and trucks can be on the periphery of town (railroad and the back of Ace, the residential areas). Deliveries can be done in the dead of night. This isn’t the thread to debate these things.

          Can you point me to a US city that supports biking and bike safety in a model that you desire?

          I’m curious why it needs to be the US. We have limits on how good our towns can be due to geography? Anyway – there are countless US communities that have large pieces of the model. Davis is certainly one of them. None of them has all the pieces, however. If we can venture outside the US it gets a lot easier…

          demanding more bike friendliness and safety without a city design that supports it.

          Sadly, this sounds is if you feel we should not do the easy safety enhancements if we cannot do everything exactly right. The perfect being the enemy of the good, and all that. I’m not demanding anything. I’m trying to get people to realize that there are some simple things we can do to improve cycling safety. I’m trying to deflect the “my right to dump trash in the street trumps your right to a clean street” notion.

          I’m thrilled beyond words to hear that you’d bike more if the town were less auto-centric. Again, we’ve met in the middle.

          And on that note, I’ve gotta go ride. Green waste pickup was yesterday in my neighborhood. There are currently seven piles of yard waste on our street today. Most of them spread out and slippery from the rain.

        2. darelldd

          The problem you have…

          I take no ownership of this problem, by the way. Private automobiles are everybody’s problem. I learned everything I need to know in kindergarden – including how to share. 🙂

    2. Don Shor

      I would like to see a nice boutique hotel downtown at G street. How is that going to be done without RDA? How is any redevelopment going to get done without RDA?

      The way development usually gets done when it isn’t being greased by taxpayer dollars. You know: private investment.

      There is a lot of things I would like to see us do citywide including making Davis more bike and pedestrian-friendly.

      The RDA funds couldn’t be used “citywide.” They could only be used within the redevelopment district. That was one of my other complaints about the RDA situation in Davis.

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