Fresno City Hall may finally do something about illegal dumping.
The idea on the table is something like a do-it-yourself Operation Clean Up.
The City Council on Thursday will consider hiring a consultant to study the wisdom of building what’s being called a “residential convenience drop-off center.”
Public Utilities wants to spend $139,000 on Southern California-based Clements Environmental Corp. The firm would do a feasibility study on the siting and planning of such a center.
What exactly is a “residential convenience drop-off center”?
Near as I can tell, it’s an authorized garbage dump in the middle of town.
OK – I exaggerate. But not by much. And judging by the four-page staff report from Jerry Schuber, head of the Solid Waste Management Division, the center sounds like a great idea.
Schuber writes that last September the city decided it was time to find a site for “an ongoing and convenient way for residents to dispose of bulky trash and recyclable items at a location open year-round.”
To which you might reply: Isn’t that what the city-operated residential trash service is all about?
“It is expected that the creation of a convenience center will reduce illegal dumping and complement our current Operation Clean Up service,” Schuber writes.
Schuber packs a lot of history into that sentence.
Everybody in town loves Operation Clean Up. Once a year, city crews come to your residential block and pick up just about all the trash that you couldn’t fit into your normal trash bits. All you have to do is pile everything in front of your house on the appropriate date.
There are limits, of course. You can’t throw away ammunition or batteries, for example. But that old refrigerator? Go ahead, toss it on the pile.
Customers pay for the service through the community sanitation fee on their utility bill.
The philosophy behind the service is simple: We’re all hoarders to a certain degree; then the Spring Cleaning Bug bites. Operation Clean Up is the legal way to keep ratepayers happy and the city clean.
But some people – too many people – decide it’s easier to dump those old mattresses, sofas and tree limbs on the nearest empty lot. We’re talking illegal dumping.
Schuber writes that illegal dumping “is prevalent throughout the City of Fresno.”
Based on my reading of Schuber’s report, a residential convenience drop-off center would be a single site within the city’s boundaries.
The city’s utility customers could drop off the following trash: Bagged garbage, recyclables, bulky trash, brush, yard trimmings, tires, old furniture, minor remodeling debris, appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners, appliances that do not contain gasoline or oil, electronics including computers and televisions.
The center would have the following restrictions: Waste loads must be tarped or secured to prevent litter during transport; single-axle trailers only; no commercial vehicles or business waste; no concrete rock, dirt or ceramic tile; no loose trash or leaves; no explosives or ammunition; no roofing material; no hazardous waste; no landscape or contractor waste.
Residents must unload their own materials and place them in the appropriate waste container.
Please note that Schuber throughout his report says the service would be for residential customers. I’m assuming this is because the city some years ago outsourced its commercial trash service.
There’s still a lot of work to be done before such a center becomes reality.
If the council approves the contract, Clements Environmental would dig into 18 specific project areas. They range from location analysis and site drawings to funding opportunities and rate evaluation.
I take “rate evaluation” to mean you’d pay a fee to leave that old spa at the drop-off center.
We’ll see what Public Utilities officials and the council members say on Thursday. Like I said earlier, this idea has real possibilities. There’s too much illegal dumping in Fresno. A combination of better anti-dumping enforcement and a convenient drop-off center that takes just about anything could put a dent in the problem.
Of course, the idea is in its infancy. Schuber’s report doesn’t address all sorts of questions.
For example, choosing a site could be a challenge. Some parts of town feel they’re stuck with far too many eyesores like a quasi-dump. But if the drop-off center is put in a wealthier part of town, that would mean the rich folks wouldn’t have to drive as far to get rid of their old kitchen sink. And that could mean more illegal dumping in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
I know – getting answers to a hundred questions is why Public Utilities wants to hire Clements Environmental.
I just hope the council encourages Schuber to begin discussing them on Thursday.
Photo: KMPH Fox 26