Diminished yard waste pick up proves woefully inadequate
By Colin Walsh
This past August while many were away on vacation the Davis City Council voted to greatly diminish street yard waste pick up that many refer to as "The Claw." For decades yard waste pick up had been routine with The Claw visiting neighborhoods weekly. But over the last few years the City has slowly reduced the service. This last reduction has certainly gone too far.
Arguments made for reduction included cost savings for the City, bicycle safety, and improved general City appearances.
The savings were not fully realized because Recology ended up charging a lot more than expected. As the August 13th report to the City Council states, "The reasoning for the higher rate is the potential that the same volume of material may be collected (occurring during alternate weeks as opposed to every week) and the landfill fees for the volume totals make up the bulk of the per unit rate. In addition, labor costs associated with the pick-ups are anticipated to be higher as it will likely take longer to pick up in one week the same amount of material previously set out over two weeks."
In the last 2 weeks we have now seen that the bicycle safety and appearance goals have not only not been met, the situation has gotten considerably worse. There was a significant windstorm on Sunday 10/27 that left large amounts of debris in yards and on the street. Homeowners fairly quickly responded by pulling the debris into the street in violation of the City's new rules. Under our old Claw schedule pick up would have begun immediately. Under the new schedule debris sat in the streets for much longer. In many places it may be more than 2 weeks.
Informal reports from around the City indicate it is likely The Claw is well behind schedule and yard waste piles are still sitting out in neighborhoods where it was already due for pick up.
What follows is an unscientific photo essay from around town showing some of the problems.
Finally here is the new City schedule. Notice that there is no street pick up at all for March, April, June, July, August and September. The worst of yard waste and debris lingering in our streets is yet to come. During peak season there is pick up only every other week, so if a windstorm (as is common in Davis) happens in an off week the resulting yard waste and debris will linger for extended periods every time.
Organic carts are still picked up every week, but for many homes with yards the cart are inadequate. Personally I find the cart practically useless because I compost small clippings and lawn trimmings onsite, leaving only bulkier items that don't fit well in carts for pick up.
This new diminished schedule has clearly gone too far, and isn't even realizing the savings the Council sought and it leaves hazards in our bike lanes and roadways. It is time for the City Council to admit they have made a miscalculation and restore more robust claw service.
You can write the city Council at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask them to bring back the claw.