If approved by the full council next week, residents – renters and owners alike – will see some changes coming to how the city deals with garbage cans that have been abandoned curbside for days at a time.
The issue was discussed during Tuesday's Budget and Economic Development Committee meeting and members approved some new approaches to the problem.
Garbage Cans Annoy Neighbors, Councilors
In 2006, city leaders changed the law to allow residents to take their garbage containers to the curb at noon on the day before pickup. They must be removed by 7 p.m. the day after.
Solid Waste Services Director Fred Battle said the added flexibility in this law also exacerbated the problem.
Most of the complaints about forgotten trash cans come from Southwest Raleigh. About half of the 1,500 violations between 2011 and 2012 were issued to rental properties.
•Councilors and residents are complaining about trash cans left at the curb for days.
•Councilors want to shorten the amount of time residents can leave trash cans out.
•Under proposed changes, landlords would be cited and fined instead of tenants.
•The City Council will discuss the potential changes Nov. 20.
Committee member Councilor Thomas Crowder said he remembers that particular vote and now regrets approving it.
To fix it, committee members approved a reduction in the time trash carts can remain on the street. If approved by the full council, the law will allow residents to take their trash out at sundown the night before pickup. The cans must be removed by sunrise the day after pickup.
For example, those who have garbage service on Thursdays can take their trash out on Wednesday evening, but must bring their container back in by Friday morning.
Citations for forgotten trash cans are now issued to the tenants of the property, but that could also change. The new law would make the landlord responsible for the violation and the associated fine.
While Crowder pushed to have it part of the Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit (PROP), Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she is hesitant to add another violation to the ordinance that governs problem rental properties.
City Changes To PROP Could Mean More Violators
Under another of the changes discussed Tuesday, communities with more than five attached dwellings — such as a townhouse community — will be required to provide private garbage pickup. Today the city provides the same roll-out carts to townhouse developments as to single-family detached homes. Only new developments would be affected by the change if its approved.
Councilors also observed that addressing the trash can problem requires more city staff to enforce the law — whether it changes or not.
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Hiring new staff members to the Solid Waste Services department would cost the city about $55,000 a year per employee.
Due to budget constraints, the city hasn't done much hiring in the past few years. McFarlance said if the city had money to hire, police officers would be higher on the list than code enforcement employees.
Crowder said trash cans lying around degrades neighborhoods. If neighborhoods degrade then the city, “will definitely need more police,” he said.
Councilors asked that staff include a budget note for additional employees during the budget process next year.
The ordinance change will be voted on during the next City Council meeting Nov. 20.