Council Rolls Back but Doesn’t End “Loose in the Streets” Yard Waste Pick Up

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Mayor Brett Lee listens to public comment on Tuesday

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.”

Darell Dickey was one of many commenters on Tuesday on both sides of the issue

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


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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30 thoughts on “Council Rolls Back but Doesn’t End “Loose in the Streets” Yard Waste Pick Up”

  1. Don Shor

    Meanwhile, they raised the rates for service: “the monthly bill will increase from $34.32 for those single-family residences currently to $51.02 per month in five years,” per the Davis Enterprise.

    1. Darell Dickey

      We’re already in the hole due to redundant services for which the city did not initially collect revenue. AND the city sees value in generating a “reserve fund” so we don’t find ourselves in a hole like this again. It is definitely a “catchup” situation, unfortunately. When done, at least we’ll be ahead. Unlike every plan I’ve heard for infrastructure repair….
      The vote was for the maximum amount that could be collected, and the shortest schedule to do so. If the city can be more creative with the system, some savings could be had. Likely not much though. Tipping fees have apparently gone up surprisingly fast.

  2. Alan Miller

    Don’t you know the garbage rate is going up, up, up, up, up
    To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
    You got rats on the West Side
    Bed bugs uptown
    What a mess this town’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered
    My brain’s been battered, splattered all over Davis

    (apologies to Mick & the boys)

  3. Jason Taormino

    I see two things missing in this conversation.  First, home owners will need to pay landscapers to haul away their yard waste.  Therefore, we are just shifting costs rather than actually saving money.  In fact, it is probably more costly to the community and creating more trips to the landfill.  Second, when I ask people who grew up in Davis, riding bikes, what they think about this and other so called bike safety measures the general response is that it is ridiculous.  We never had problems running into parked cars or piles of brush.  It feels like the anti car movement more than a pro biking community is behind the yard waste changes.

    1. Darell Dickey

      These have both been “part of the conversation” since I’ve been involved with it. At least eight years.
      1. There are several options, and more creative and inexpensive ways of dealing with green waste than paying a landscaper, and/or creating a new trip to the landfill. Some of them are free, while some of them can cost an extra $5-6 per month. Many of them were discussed last night.
      2. The piles create a public safety hazard, much like a lifted sidewalk creates a tripping hazard for pedestrians. It just happens that a person on a bike is most vulnerable to the pile problem. This is not a “so called bike safety measure.” If you were to speak to the people who have been seriously and permanently injured due to piles, you may decide not to use such dismissive language.

    2. Richard McCann

      Your first item isn’t missing from the discussion. It already has been discussed at the URAC and NRC and will be again in greater detail going forward. It’s just not possible to discuss everything in detail at a Council meeting–that’s why we have the commissions to explore issues in greater depth.
      As to the second item, the evidence points to a contrary conclusion. Even as a runner, I trip over a street pile in a dark spot at least once a year. The fact is that the street piles are intermittent so they may not be there one day and then appear the next, and they are not at an easy vision level like a parked car. And if one suggests that cyclists use brighter lights, one significant problem is that those types of lights are stolen easily off of bikes, so if you forget once to take it with you, it will be gone when you come back.
      That said, we still need to assess whether the benefits to the environment outweigh the risks to safety. (And by the way, we still allow cars on the street because the manifest benefits outweigh the health and safety risks despite the tens of thousands of deaths each year in accidents and air pollution.)

    3. Dave Hart

      Jason, not true about needing to pay landscapers to haul yard waste.  All the organic production from any parcel in this town can be made to fit into one (or two if you want to splurge) large bin with a little work and some management consideration.  By that I mean not letting it build up into a gigantic mess and then pretending it has to be dealt with all at one time.  I’ve successfully kept up with the fall leaf drop on 11 parcels on my small cul-de-sac with mostly Modesto Ash trees and the Chinese pistach or whatever they are and have never needed more than three large bins.  Yeah.  Hard to believe if you don’t want to believe it.  I come at this not from a cycling view point, but from a purely aesthetic one.  I don’t like the streets full of crap that gets pulverized by cars and then blows into my garage.  I was at the meeting last night and had to sit there and listen to the never-ending whine of how difficult it is to take care of leaves and falling branches.  While I can be sympathetic, there is no reason why any person who lives in this town should not be responsible for the tree(s) on their parcel.  It’s just not that much to ask and not that hard to do.

  4. Bill Marshall

    BTW… City street trees (required by the City, in most areas of town) contribute maybe 15% of the leaves, twigs, branches, etc. to what ends up in the street, naturally… should property owners be responsible for removing that from the street/sidewalks, and placing it in approved containers, or transporting it to the landfill in private vehicles to the landfill?  In many cases, with storms, and/or hot weather, there are avulsions of limbs, some exceeding 4 inches in diameter… adjacent HO responsibility?  

    A required planting [based on the theory of ‘public good’], and private responsibility?  Interesting concept… not without precedent…

    As is private need, funded by and provided by government/citizen funding…

    1. Darell Dickey

      There were many comments about this, as well as discussion by the council. Everybody wants trees. Nobody wants a certain type of tree and resulting care forced upon them.
       

    2. Darell Dickey

      I meant to add that the city trees are definitely something that needs to be worked out. And while it IS part of the conversation of green waste, the whole requirement and tree type and all that stuff is a different conversation. A conversation that’s long overdue.

      1. Don Shor

        the whole requirement and tree type and all that stuff is a different conversation. A conversation that’s long overdue.

        What exactly do you wish to discuss about the street tree program?

        1. Richard McCann

          Don
          Two things:
          1) Some trees turn out to be inappropriate as street trees, e.g., magnolias.
          2) We need to plan to replace some of our trees in anticipation of climate change. This is particularly true of trees nearing the end of their expected life.

          1. Don Shor

            I agree. The street tree commission does address the species issue with their ongoing ‘recommended’ list. The city is behind on replacement at the moment, partly due to losses of some (perhaps less than appropriate) species during the drought.
            I’m about to go head out to do a presentation on this topic before a neighborhood group, my second of the year. It’s a timely topic, so perhaps I’ll do a post on it later for comment. The conflict between solar and shade trees is an interesting wrinkle we can discuss.

    3. Dave Hart

      Bill, why shouldn’t t we take care of the leaves and branches from city trees?  They are there for our enjoyment and that of our neighbors.  They add to property values.  Shade in the summer.  Why shouldn’t we blow or rake those leaves off the street, into a pile and load them into a bin?  Why shouldn’t we take responsibility for our own neighborhoods?

  5. Darell Dickey

    Bike enthusiasts

    I don’t think anybody at the mic last night would identify themselves as a “bike enthusiast” which sounds like some sort of hobby. We are bike enthusiasts as much as a person who drives a car to Starbucks and to work in town should be called a “car enthusiast.” We are also gardening and walking enthusiasts. Each one of us is a parent, drives a car, tends to a yard, walks, and rides a bike. It just so happens that the issue at hand is most dangerous to cyclists. And untold thousands of Davis residents ride bikes.
     
    If I had to choose, I’d call us “safe streets” enthusiasts. Or “public safety” enthusiasts.

    1. Don Shor

      I don’t think anybody at the mic last night would identify themselves as a “bike enthusiast” which sounds like some sort of hobby. We are bike enthusiasts as much as a person who drives a car to Starbucks and to work in town should be called a “car enthusiast.” We are also gardening and walking enthusiasts. Each one of us is a parent, drives a car, tends to a yard, walks, and rides a bike. It just so happens that the issue at hand is most dangerous to cyclists. And untold thousands of Davis residents ride bikes.

      You are, if I recall, a member of Bike Davis. The mission is

      To encourage and promote bicycling, improve infrastructure, influence policy, and advocate for a vibrant bicycle culture in Davis, California

      So that is an advocacy organization by definition, and a rather active one in town with respect to all aspects of bicycling.

      1. Darell Dickey

        Thanks for the research, Don. I’m glad that our new website is working. It’s been a long time coming.  🙂
         
        I’m also a member of three automobile clubs. And an avid gardener who creates (mostly via in-place composting!) a lot of his own soil, and grows a lot of his own food (and actually consumes what’s left by the squirrels and rats). And I’m an electric vehicle advocate as well. So… how do we best choose labels? Does accuracy and relevance count for anything? Why not label us all as parents? We are child enthusiasts! I am certainly a garden enthusiast too. Don’t even get me started on beer.
         
        I am currently not on the board of Bike Davis, though I am indeed a member. And of course I am a bicycle advocate, and I use a bike for most of my intra-city transportation. I come at this city-condoned street hazard issue from a public safety standpoint. And the tens of thousands of “cyclists” in our city stand to benefit from this effort. If that makes me a “bike enthusiast” then I guess I’ll wear the badge with pride, and stop resisting.

        In case this is of any interest to you, I have put effort into changing the Bike Davis Mission statement to be more generically “street safety” oriented. Sometimes the inclusion of “bike” works against us. Like this instance where it clouds the issue and distracts from the the umbrella topic of “public safety.” It turns out that the people in our city who use a bicycle for transportation are just as much of the public as those who choose to drive everywhere.

        1. Alan Miller

          Bicyclists are the Rodney Dangerfields of transportation . . . we don’t get no respect . . . leaving your yard clippings in our lane . . . unloading your ubers . . . the term “bicycle enthusiasts” was a subtle dig (disrespect).

        2. Bill Marshall

          Amen…
          Professionally, I always tried to work for (for ~ 40 years) “complete streets” … long before the term was ‘coined’… streets are public right of way, for all modes/users… may well not have been ‘perfect’ in the effort or results, but it was important to me from the get-go… it should remain important for all…

        3. John Hobbs

          “It turns out that the people in our city who use a bicycle for transportation are just as much of the public as those who choose to drive everywhere.”
          Good! Now when will they start paying for registration and insurance?
          The people who choose to ride bikes in my city have been endlessly  indulged with massive lane grabs and ridiculous street designs that make it impossible to find a safe place to park for disabled drivers and passengers, but often pay not one cent toward these indulgences and never pay for liability insurance, should they knock down your fence, dent your car, etc.
           

        4. Richard McCann

          John Hobbs
          Don’t try to claim privilege! EVERYONE pays for the streets through their taxes and thus have a right to their taxes. Car insurance is required because they are potentially two-ton lethal weapons. There are almost no deaths from bikes hitting something/someone else. Bikes are much like pedestrians. Would you try to claim that those in wheelchairs also should pay insurance? Of course not! 
          BTW, my sister Barbara McCann coined the original term “complete streets” a couple of decades ago.

  6. Dave Hart

    I like every one of our City Council members currently.  I think we are really fortunate to have every one of them representing us and dealing with these problems.  One observation is that Will Arnold previously stated that he believed the citizens of Davis would be able to adapt to no claw service in the future.  I think he might have used the word “resilient” in describing how we could all get along without it.  So, I was surprised that he voted to keep the LITS program going at a higher level.  Eliminating it entirely is one viable way of reducing the rate increases since we can not go back to the good ‘ol days of just throwing everything into the landfill.

    1. Darell Dickey

      Will’s stance was a bit of surprise to me as well. Yet his reasoning was at least sound: We did public outreach, and the motion was for a schedule that wasn’t even presented as an option for discussion. For all we know, it may have been the top vote-getter…. or maybe would have been shunned. Regardless of how he personally feels about the situation, I understand his resistance.
       
      The big takeaway here is that not enough thought was put into this BEFORE those three options were presented to the public.

  7. Richard McCann

    John Hobbs
    Don’t try to claim privilege! EVERYONE pays for the streets through their taxes and thus have a right to enjoy the benefits their taxes. Car insurance is required because they are potentially two-ton lethal weapons. There are almost no deaths from bikes hitting something/someone else. Bikes are much like pedestrians. Would you try to claim that those in wheelchairs also should pay insurance? Of course not! 
    BTW, my sister Barbara McCann coined the original term “complete streets” a couple of decades ago.

    1. John Hobbs

      Off-topic, but you’re wrong!
      “There are almost no deaths from bikes hitting something/someone else. ”
      Tell that to the wife of Suchi Hui, killed by “committed” cyclist Chris Bucchere in fromt of her as the cyclist ran the red light at Castro and Market killing the 71 year-old. He has never taken responsibility for his criminally reckless behavior posting later the day of the killing,  “way too committed to stop” at the intersection — then dedicated the post to his “late helmet (that) died in heroic fashion.”
      Blessedly most bicycle assaults are less mortal, but often very expensive.In 2003 my car was t-boned by a bicyclist who ran a stop sign on ‘M’ street in Sacramento. He had no lights, no insurance and refused to give me his id or phone number. The collision caused $825 to my car. (Repair dent left front quarter panel, dented hood and paint.) 
      In 2009, I was on crutches, crossing in the crosswalk at 10th and J streets, when another environmental hero sped around the corner, counter direction to traffic and knocked me down. He never even stopped. The entitled status of bicyclists cannot seriously be in question.

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