San Diego’s trash bin replacement system needs to be trashed, according to a recent San Diego County Grand Jury report. Instead of charging homeowners for replacement bins, the city should do so for free and look for more durable ones, the report recommended.
The grand jury found a host of problems with how the city currently deals with black refuse bins, which number about 300,000. As many as 70 percent are past their 10-year lifespan.
However, homeowners are not apt to replace them because a new bin costs $70, with a $25 delivery fee. That’s why many are patched up with duct tape or glue.
That’s not all. Some homeowners are managing to get replacement bins for free. Three council offices — which were not named — have been sending money to fund an account run by the city’s Environmental Services Department to replace bins for free.
The idea was to provide the new trash containers for persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and/or low-income constituents, the report said. However, the council offices could not provide any evidence that they were actually screening constituents to see if they qualified.
The money is coming from Community Projects Programs and Services (CPPS) funds, which may not be an appropriate use of it, the report said. That money is not to be spent on private purchases.
As the report noted: ”In numerous interviews not one person could cite the authority used to justify the practice of providing free replacement refuse bins. Without exception, those involved in the process stated they believed someone else was responsible for checking to see if the process was legal and proper.”
Additionally, it was not made public that some districts were spending money this way.
The council offices began doing so after complaints about the condition of the bins increased. Homeowners blamed the city garbage trucks for causing the damage. The bins are hoisted up by an automated system, with the trash then being dumped into the back of the truck. The bins are then slammed back down to the ground.
In fiscal year 2014, the city received nearly 4,000 complaints regarding trash trucks damaging bins. In fiscal year 2016, that number grew to nearly 6,800.
The city used to replace the bins for free, but stopped doing so in 2008 when the recession caused a drop in tax revenue.
In addition to recommending the city stop charging for replacing bins, the grand jury also recommended that it look into what CPPS funds can be used for. It also called for a number of other reforms.
Here’s a link to the full report.