Local News

Raleigh council: Clean up trashy curbs

Posted October 25, 2012 10:11 a.m. EDT

— Garbage cans left by the curb for days continue to be a problem for some residents in south Raleigh, and City Councilors are looking to Solid Waste Services staff for a solution.

Residents have a limited window of time during which they can place their garbage cans at the curb for pickup and then remove them. Containers must be placed at the curb no earlier than noon the day before pickup and must be removed by 7 p.m. the day after.

The time frame was extended in 2006 to give residents more flexibility.

City Manager Russell Allen said there is a difference between residents who are late bringing in their cans and those who are repeat offenders.

Violators are first issued a warning and then fined if problems continue.

Solid Waste Services has a limited number of inspectors, and code enforcement is done primarily through resident complaint.

SWS director Fred Battle said most of the resident complaints come from Councilor Thomas Crowder’s district, District D.

Councilor Eugene Weeks’ district, District C, also has a high number of offenders.

Between 2011 and 2012, the city issued more than 1,500 warning letters, with about half of the violations going to rental properties.

Ideally, Battle said, the department would have one inspector for each city quadrant.

Because of the economy, the city has had to downsize the Solid Waste Services Department and hasn’t been able to add more employees.

Crowder said because of the Thursday pickup in his district, some trash cans can sit on the side of the road until Monday, when an inspector is finally able to get to the house.

District C has similar issues because of its Friday pickup. Cans could potentially stay out until Sunday night, when residents come back from a weekend away.

Crowder said the city is not addressing the problem and it is a chronic issue.

“It is a huge quality of life issue,” he said.

Weeks said residents in his neighborhood have been proactive and began talking to neighbors who leave cans out.

If you’re leaving on Friday, Weeks said, tell your neighbor to move your cart.

It has helped alleviate some of the problem in his area and suggested that it be brought up more in the Community Advisory Council meetings.

Crowder said it isn’t a citizen’s job to enforce a city law.

To add another inspector would cost the city about $50,000, Allen said.

Because half of the violations come from rental houses, Crowder suggested adding the violation to the city’s Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit ordinance.

Problem rental properties — those that are in constant violation of zoning or criminal laws — become part of the PROP.

But, the City Attorney’s office would have to do more research to find out if the city could include garbage cans as a PROP violation.

Battle said inspectors in other cities will bring the cans back up to the house, but will charge an additional fee on top of any fines.

Committee members asked solid waste staff to research ways to help the problem.