Santa Claravs enormously popular residential Clean–Up Campaign (CUC) is headed for an overhaul. The Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) has made a formal complaint to the City documenting hazardous materials and loose construction debris that could contaminate storm drains during a rainstorm. About 10,000 tons of trash are collected every year.
The campaign collects household debris too bulky for normal garbage collection in a once–a–year collection for most neighborhoods south of 101. Although residents are instructed that hazardous chemicals canvt be put out, and construction debris must be bagged, every year crews find these things loose in the trash.
For many itvs an annual treasure hunt. Old houses have been restored with period furnishings and trim gleaned from the cleanup – including the Harris–Lass Museum. Crafters find materials. One family found an entire hardwood floor, now installed in their dining room.
This also makes it an “attractive nuisance” when scavengers scatter debris on the street and sidewalks, creating obstacles for drivers and pedestrians, and blocking fire hydrants and driveways. The CUC also draws illegal dumping – itvs estimated that some 15 percent of the trash comes from non–residents or small businesses.
“Spring Cleaning Days’ are a mixed blessing,” a resident posting as “Amerigo Vespucci” wrote on democraticunderground.com in 2009. “No dump fees, but strangers roaming your property. About a 1,000,000% chance of nails in your tires until the city picks the stuff up and sends the street sweepers.”
“We realize the program is very popular,” said City Manager Julio Fuentes at the City Councilvs Feb. 3 study session. “However, what wevre doing is illegal. We have to look at alternatives.”
No changes are in the cards for this year, but the Public Works Department has proposed a combination of citywide services as a replacement. This includes once–a–year, on–call bulky item collection for single–family homes ($2.75 per month), an annual unlimited green waste pick up for Clean Green customers ($1.36 per month) and bins for multi–family complexes about every four years (2.6 percent increase to dumpster rates). The fees would replace the current $3.80 monthly charge.
Currently, therevs no decision about how long the current program will continue, according to Deputy Director of Public Works, Dave Staub. It was clear at the study session that the Council isnvt going to cancel a popular program without input from residents, and has directed staff to survey residents about the proposed CUC replacement.