Local News

Bicycle advocates push for container-only yard waste

By From page A1 | August 19, 2014

Bicycle and environmental advocates are launching a kind of rebellion against yard waste piles — this time aimed at the Davis City Council.

The Bicycle Advisory Commission voted Monday night to accept and endorse another recommendation from the Natural Resources Commission in a rebuke of the council’s decision to phase in the yard waste containers. The council wanted to ease their introduction by allowing traditional weekly street pickups in November and December and monthly street pickups during the rest of the year.

The February council decision, called the “Lee option” after its first proponent, City Councilman Brett Lee, is viewed by the councilman as an intermediate step toward a container-only system for yard waste, which is found in the vast majority of California cities.

Still, bike and environmental advocates, who have long complained about the yard waste piles and the danger they pose to bicyclists and how they contaminate runoff water, aren’t satisfied with transitional measures.

“My personal fear on this is if we push back on this” people will not get used to containers, said Natural Resources Commissioner Michelle Millet. Earlier, she said the Lee option is too expensive compared to a container-only system.

Lee was on hand to answer questions and defend his idea. He pointed out that representatives from Davis Waste Removal did not foresee different cost savings with a container-only system compared to seasonal and monthly pickups. Further, he said a small anecdotal survey completed by Alan Pryor, another Natural Resources Commission member, was incorrect because it did not take into account the heavy yard waste generated in the fall. Pryor’s survey of one neighborhood seemed to illustrate how few people will take advantage of monthly pickups.

Lee said the council has chosen a long view of yard waste containers.

“I don’t think anyone believes this is a final solution,” he said. “I think that every resident in Davis will have a container and over time they will conclude it’s a vastly superior way to collect yard waste. … For me this is an intermediate step.”

Only San Jose and Modesto have yard waste pile collection like Davis’, according to a subcommittee report from the Natural Resources Commission.

The long view did not sit well with bike and environmental advocates.

Mont Hubbard, president of Davis Bicycles!, said he’s seen 50-foot-long yard waste piles in bike lanes.

“I worry about subsidization of the folks who make these 50-foot piles,” he said.

Darrel Pickey, a Bicycle Advisory Commission member, said he doesn’t understand why it is so hard for Davisites to leave the yard piles behind.

“I don’t see why Davis has so much trouble doing what the rest of California has done,” he said.

Pryor said yard piles, especially grass piles, leach nitrogen and herbicides into water runoff, posing a threat to the environment.

But it was Steve Tracy, another Davis Bicycles! member, who pointed out the dangers of yard waste piles for students going to and from school. He said his daughter tried to dodge a pile of spike-laden palm fronds, got spooked by traffic in the road and ultimately crashed into the fronds, coming home bruised and battered, with a busted bike as well.

“That shouldn’t happen to a 10-year-old coming home from school,” he said.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews


Dave Ryan

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