A months-long transition from collecting garbage in alleys to curbside garbage pickup is going well in multiple Yakima neighborhoods, public works officials told the Yakima City Council.
Trace Bradburn, the city’s refuse division manager, updated the council on the transition during its Tuesday night meeting. He said picking up garbage cans at the curb is safer and more efficient for the automated, side-load refuse trucks.
These trucks require 20 feet of space to operate safely, and 18 feet in overhead clearance to lift and dump the city garbage cans, Bradburn said. The tight dimensions in alleys and hazards such as overhead wires and trees do not provide enough room for the trucks, he added.
“The consensus of the whole public works division was moving the service from the alleys to the street will improve the service, and it certainly has,” Bradburn said.
Entering alleys off busy streets creates a challenge, he said, forcing trucks to nearly stop due to the tight turn and poor turning radius. And parked cars in alleyways can reduce or eliminate access to the garbage cans, forcing operators to back their trucks out onto those same busy streets.
Working with customers
The city’s refuse division contacted residents whose trash is collected in alleys earlier this year to inform them of the change, and of the 4,500 customers contacted, only 1,000 or so are still putting their trash cans in alleyways, Bradburn said.
“We started this process in February and wanted to (move the collection site) one route at a time so we could focus on what we needed to do,” he said. “I’ve personally talked to hundreds of residents, and we’ve tried to work through whatever their concerns are.”
One issue has been the difficulty some residents may have hauling their can from the alley to the curb in front of their home. Residents who have this issue can have their cans moved for them at no cost, Bradburn said.
“There are currently 74 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) customers receiving complimentary carry-out service, many of which had the ADA service when it was alley service,” he added. “We haven’t added very many at all (since the switch to curbside).”
Council member Soneya Lund asked if cars parked on the street cause similar problems to cars parked in alleys.
“Most people are gone at work or elsewhere when we service those residences,” Bradburn replied. “We’re seeing more people moving their cars off the main street and parking them in the alleys, which is what we’d rather see.”
He also said an unforeseen and positive byproduct of moving the collection site to curbside has been a substantial decline in alleyway litter and debris, as reported by the city of Yakima’s Clean City crews. This allows them to focus on littering “hot spots” such as North First Street and Naches Avenue.
Council member Patricia Byers asked Bradburn why he believes there’s less litter and dumping in the alleyways after the trash cans were moved.
He and others in the refuse division believe illegal dumping of tires and other hard-to-dispose items has declined since there are no trash cans in alleys to place them. And trash cans on the street, in front of houses, are more out in the open and attract more notice from neighbors when someone dumps litter in or around them.
More information about the switch from alleyway to curbside garbage collection is available by calling the city’s refuse division at 509-575-6005 or by visiting the refuse division homepage at yakimawa.gov.
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