While the public commenters were almost evenly split, the opposition to changes in the city’s organics program, which includes weekly containerization of greenwaste with only a monthly pick up of yard clippings dumped on the street, prompted several citizens to proclaim their love for “the claw.”
One lady said her family refers to the claw as “Snuffleupagus,” and Mayor Dan Wolk told the council and members of the public, “I grew up in this community, I love the claw,” before proclaiming it a good compromise and professing his support.
Council would then unanimously approve the staff recommendation with a slight modification from Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis to prohibit dumping of the waste in the bike lanes noting that, as “travel lanes,” such a move is inappropriate.
As one member of the public put it, “We obviously all have trees and plants that require pruning and all kinds of waste is collected every… week. 2000 tons are collected every week. If we drop back to one collection every four weeks, then there’s going to be 8 or 9000 tons that are collected in that one week – I don’t know where that’s going to be stored.
“I think that this is a very unfortunate thing because it’s one of the beauties of Davis to have this claw pick up – in fact the claw was invented in Davis, I knew the inventor, it’s one of the great things about Davis,” he argued. He said we are wiping out a “wonderful program” in order to fund something “that’s very questionable, the wet garbage program.”
Another resident said, “This program is being represented as revenue neutral – no increased cost to property owners – and I don’t think that’s true. There’s a hidden cost that’s going to come to the necessity to collect and move the waste during the three weeks when there is no service.”
He scoffed at the bicycle issue stating, “I’m a long time cyclist, I do a lot of cycling in Davis, I’ve never had a serious issue, you share the road with cars.” He acknowledged that sometimes you have to go out onto the road, but he didn’t see it as a big deal and noted that “bins go out onto the road into the bike lane.”
“This ordinance appears to be trying to fix a system that isn’t broken,” another resident said. “Davis is an urban forest community, very unique, and we need unique solutions to deal with what we generate from our plant life here.”
He said he lives on College Park where there are hundred-foot-high trees. He noted that “when we trim our shrubs, we don’t trim them in the fall when the leaves fall’s happening. We trim them spring, late summer, mid fall.”
That generates piles of branches, not leaves, “and you can’t put those – there’s no way a 90 gallon cart can hold that much stuff so you have to store it somewhere.” He questioned what would happen with that amount of volume with a monthly pick up.
He said, “If you’re going to pass an ordinance like this, at minimum you need a call for pick up option.”
Mark Murray, however, said that when Sacramento put forward a containerized proposal, he was opposed to it. He said, “I love the claw.” He said, Sacramento came up with a good compromise but the Davis staff has come up with an even better compromise.
“I frankly think your staff has come up with an even better compromise of keeping the claw, keeping putting yard waste in the street once a month,” he said. “With the legislation being passed, there isn’t going to be any yard waste going to landfill by the commercial sector, by the lawn and garden services… because we don’t want that organic material going to landfill.”
He said, “It’s harming our environment and it’s costing us a huge amount of money in terms of the engineering of the landfill.”
“We love the claw,” proclaimed Heather Harris. “We call it the Snuffleupagus at our house. We look forward to it coming by every week [for] all of our yard waste.” She said, “We would find having to put most of our stuff in our container a burden and would think that once a month street pick up [is not sufficient] for our current needs. I can see going to twice a month as a compromise.”
Darell Dickey noted that he moved to Davis 18 years ago from a Bay Area community that had containerization. He said, “Before moving here, honestly I had never seen greenwaste piled in the street and the first question I had for my real estate agent was [whether] this was like a once in a year thing, we don’t throw trash in the street… He said, no this is one of the great things about Davis, we pile our stuff in the street. I was shocked.”
Mr. Dickey told the council that he still uses a cart. “I have to then dump the thing in the street which is an extra step… I see my neighbors doing the same thing too, in fact that ones that wish to continue dumping in the street, they fill a container first and then they dump it in the street.”
The council was generally supportive of the ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said this raises the issue “of allowing greenwaste to be dumped in the bike lanes at all anywhere in the city.” He pointed out that neighborhood streets don’t have bike lanes, so this is not an issue in neighborhood streets. “That’s the majority of our street surface,” he said.
There’s also a large number of major roads that are double-striped. “Total non-issue,” Mr. Davis said. But he said where there is single-striping, he found some incursion into the bike lane by the piles. “I would personally like to see the ordinance changed to just not allow greenwaste in any bikeway. These are travel lanes, we do not allow people to dump greenwaste, yard waste into motorized vehicles lanes. If we did, we’d have a lot more commentators down here tonight.”
Councilmember Lucas Frerichs noted that we have been talking about this for a long time and the proposal has evolved over time. “Early on it was the discussion about removing the claw altogether and that clearly was unacceptable to the community,” he said. “I appreciate that so we made adjustments to the proposal.”
Mr. Frerichs noted the importance of reducing waste, and improved storm water qualities were important components about this. He said, “I think the overall proposal represents a compromise it’s sort of the Goldielocks getting the porridge not too hot, not too cold, getting it just right.”
Mayor Dan Wolk added, “I do think that this is a good compromise proposal between containerizing the greenwaste and also preserving the claw. I grew up in this community, I love the claw.”
Council unanimously passed the staff recommendation with added language to prohibit waste in the bike lanes.
—David M. Greenwald reporting