At this week’s City Council meeting, the Council will hold public hearings on two important ordinances on City’s bulk trash collection practices. One major change the ordinances will do is to limit up to four bulky refuse collections per the calendar year with a maximum of 12 or 20 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year free of charge. The Council will decide whether to limit the number of items to 12 or 20 per year. Residents will need to pay $20 for each additional item once they use up the maximum number of items (12 or 20) in any given year. The ordinances propose a maximum number of 29 bulky items for single-family rental homes.

Generally, the Ordinance 20-O-01 sets the number of times bulk trash will be picked up per year, whereas Ordinance 20-O-02 deals with fees for bulk trash collection.

City secured a contracting firm (SCS) to conduct a study of the City’s current bulk trash collection practices. The SCS came up with a number of recommendations in their report.

At this time, it’s difficult to know the number of residences that will be impacted by the proposed changes. According to the data provided by the SCS report, if the number of the collection is limited to 4 per year, then about 231 homes (about 5% of total homes) will be impacted. However, the report does not have data showing how many items in total the rest of the homes called for collection throughout the study period (of 2017). For example, it’s possible that several homes called for services less than 4 times a year, but they asked to collect more than 20 (or 12) items a year. These homes will also be impacted because of the other provision in the proposed code – limiting the number of items 20 (or 12) per the calendar year.

According to the report the volume of the bulk collection has been going up in recent years. One particular reason is probably because of the abuse of the system by some, who either bring bulk trash from outside of the city or allow others to bring and drop at the curbside of their homes. The increase of bulky trash volume due to this abusive practice probably makes sense, given the fact that the number of single-family homes has not gone up in the city, especially in recent years.

In order to curb these abusive practices, “SCS recommends that the City establish a provision in the City Code that prevents residents or others from placing special trash at the curb of a residence other than where it was generated. The City’s special trash program will only collect materials from the residence where it originates. Such a provision must also provide for enforcement actions if the City determines residents are violating this requirement to abuse the program.

Accordingly, the ordinance 20-O-01 includes this provision in Section 6.

If implemented, College Park will be first in the four cities coalition group adopting code limiting the number of collections per year.

College Park’s Public Works has a history of providing quality services to its residents. Residents appreciate the fact that their hard-earned tax dollars are being used appropriately on the weekly and special trash collection services. Some residents think it’s important to penalize the abusers of the system, however, it’s not fair to fine residents needing additional trash pickups.

Perhaps we should give the following options a try before we move to proposed changes in limiting the number of collections and the number of items per year. Here are some thoughts:
1. Allow some time to collect more relevant data about bulk trash collection in the city. One data is particularly important to collect is the number of items being collected from residences over a year period. Currently, this data is not available.
2. Give some time to see how the proposed changes in Code help reduce the abuse in the system
3. Work with the community groups (CBE and others) and the organizations such as Community forklift in encouraging residents on recycling bulky items.

The ordinances have other provisions about the collection of electronics, white goods (refrigerators, etc), woody materials and the number of green trash toters. You can see the details about these two ordinances here on this week’s Council packet (starts at page 22).

Public hearings on these two ordinances will take place at 7:30pm at this Tuesday’s council meeting. In case you cannot attend the meeting, please send your thoughts at before 5 pm on Tuesday.


UPDATE:  The Council voted 6-2 to spend 6-12 months with a goal to collect more bulk trash related data (item counts etc) and revisit proposed changes afterward. Thank you all for your comments and testimonies. It was a long night.