The council on Tuesday voted to reduce the “loose in the streets” yard waste pick up to 11 times a year. For Will Arnold it was a step too far: “I’m not going to support this.
“I think I’m further off than my colleagues here,” he said. “I don’t want to make this kind of drop.”
Mr. Arnold pointed out when they had public meetings and outreach, support for the plan got lower as they reduced the number of pick ups. He said he would support a 15-a-year plan, not an 11. He also argued that not having a pick up in September “is a mistake.”
Earlier he said, “Personally I like the claw. I want to see it keep going. I’m not convinced yet that reducing the number of pick ups actually reduces the issues that we have.”
But he was out-voted by his colleagues.
The public was mixed during public comment. Bike enthusiasts were generally supportive of eliminating the claw, but neighborhoods like Old East Davis came out opposed to that.
Rhonda Reed, speaking as president of that Neighborhood Association, said at their last meeting they voted unanimously to support the continued use of the claw. “Old East Davis is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Davis… and we have good a concentration of large old trees.
“The leaves come down when they come down naturally,” she said. “We would be more supportive of a schedule that would pick up the leaves more frequently.”
Anya Claasen warned, “We enjoy a beautiful tree canopy that I think is one of the greatest assets in Davis.” She added, “I think that the elimination of the claw will result in our grandchildren’s Davis looking very different from the Davis that we inherited due to tree loss from attrition.”
On the other hand, Elaine Roberts Musser from the URAC (Utility Rate Advisory Committee), speaking on her own, agreed with her commission’s support of a phase out of the LITS program.
“The key sticking point is the cost to administer the program as well as the $1 million cost to replace the equipment in the next three to five years,” she said. She also cited the safety issue of putting yard waste in the street where bicycles travel.
“A far larger issue looms, however,” she explained, as “the state is moving towards encouraging containerization.”
She recommended the council allow the four commissions working on this to have time to find alternative solutions to LITS over the next six months.
Linda Deos said, “I never thought I would say this, I’m going to be supporting phasing out the LITS program.
“I love the claw,” she said, noting that she lived in places with both containers and street pick up. “I grew up in Oregon where we never had (the claw) and we got lots of big trees up there. We found a way to manage them. We found a way to keep the trees growing.”
Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida explained, “I understand the concern about the tree canopy and will we have less trees if we don’t have the claw.
“That’s a valid concern,” she said. “But I do know there are other cities and other neighborhoods that also have wonderful canopies – I think it comes down to is this one of our core values. One of our core values in Davis is trees.
“Are we going to live up to our values and continue to maintain our tree canopies even if it’s not easy?” she asked. “I would hope we would continue to do that, whether or not we have the claw.”
For Mayor Brett Lee, “The claw is quite a convenience.”
However, he said, “It has struck me as a little odd this idea that if the claw goes that somehow people are going to cut down their trees.”
After living in communities with plentiful trees but no on-the-street yard pick up, he said “that seems to be more out of spite than actual lack of ability to take care of a tree because of the lack of the on-street green waste collection.”
He said such an idea “seems to be a little bit of an exaggeration.”
Mayor Lee also pointed out that, during the summer, life without trees would be “quite a miserable experience.”
Councilmember Lucas Frerichs pointed out that there is no claw on B Street anymore, where he has lived for a number of years. “No claw on B Street and guess what, we’ve all adapted. We’ve survived and there’s lots of big trees on B Street.
“There’s a lot of green waste throughout the year, and we are able to manage it all in green waste bins,” he said. “We have adjusted.
“There’s an ability to adjust to not having the claw, not only here in Davis but in hundreds of other cities that don’t use the claw and never have used the claw,” he said.
He acknowledged that “the city does need to do a much better job of street maintenance.”
He also added later that hazards for bikes and pedestrians from the green waste piles “is a real issue.”
“I’m for a balanced compromise,” Dan Carson said. “I support a decrease (in the use of) the claw, but preserving it at this point.”
He was open to the number of weeks that would be, but said, “The condensed schedule appeals to me as long as we extend deeper into January.” He also supported using savings from the reduction in the use of the claw to provide some additional street sweeping to keep debris from getting into storm drains.
Councilmember Carson supported changing the law to require people to fill up carts first before putting it in the streets. He stressed he was not supporting heavy enforcement of the action, but rather use it as a way to encourage folks to change how they utilize their bins.
After looking at a variety of alternative schedules they found a plan that four of the councilmembers agreed to, with 11 pick ups.
Mayor Brett Lee estimated a cost savings of nearly half a million, which he believed might reduce the need for rate increases in the out years of the new rate increases approved by the council earlier in the evening.
They supported every other week starting in October and going through February, with one in the spring.
Will Arnold was the lone dissenter. The vote was 4-1.
—David M. Greenwald reporting