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Commentary: Yard Waste Pickup Woes

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, May 27, 2011

Leaf pick-up in Sacramento is like snow removal in Chicago: a basic. When a city can't get that right, something's wrong. And Sacramento can't get it right. For weeks now, residents have been fuming about huge piles of yard debris stacking up all over.

The city is transitioning from loose-in-the-street pick up to containerized yard waste. But those who pay extra for the service can still leave their yard waste in the street. Eight times a year, the city picks up loose-in-the-street yard waste for all.  Residents are confused. Sometimes yard waste is picked up and sometimes it isn't.

It gets worse. A refuse worker told me different rules apply in different neighborhoods. In Oak Park, all yard waste left in the street is picked up whether residents pay or not. Last week, I watched a claw and truck crew pick up all yard debris in Oak Park, while another crew I observed in The Pocket drove by huge piles.

After at first denying disparate treatment, city officials told me the refuse workers were confused. They've now been instructed on the correct policy. Yeah - sure.

The real problem is inconsistency. The city needs to pick up loose in the street yard waste for all, or for none. The hybrid system breeds confusion and scofflaws.



Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.

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