Dumping concerns prompt request to expand pickup service

Dumping concerns prompt request to expand pickup service

Michele Ellson
illegal dumping

Furniture illegally dumped curbside in Alameda. Photo courtesy of Mary Grace Basco.

Every year, Mary Grace Basco calls Alameda County Industries to request the trash hauler’s on-call pickup service, which would allow her to dispose of debris and large items that are too big to put in her garbage can. And every year, her request to receive the service is denied.

Basco’s address is shared by 10 condominiums, and the city’s contract with Alameda County Industries only requires the hauler to provide its on-call service to properties with four or fewer residences. In a letter to a city public works official she said the condominium owners would happily pay the additional cost to receive the service, but “are not even afforded that option.”

Basco is asking the city to change its contract with Alameda County Industries to make the hauler provide her and residents like her the same annual pickup service that single family homeowners are getting.

“We would like to be given a fair opportunity to discard bulky debris in a responsible manner,” Basco wrote to the city.

She’s also questioning whether the lack of pickup service is contributing to illegal dumping across the Island – a concern that’s gained steam on at least one online gathering space, the Alameda Peeps Facebook page.

“Without an alternative way to dispose of bulky debris, I can only guess that residents less responsible than I are resorting to illegal dumping,” Basco wrote to the city, adding that she’s seen mattresses, broken shelves, stuffed chairs and sofas lining the Island’s streets.

Residents living in single family homes and buildings with between two and four units can schedule a free, on-call pickup once a year, and additional pickups for a fee. Alameda County Industries provides a two-cubic-yard container those customers can use to dump refuse that can’t go into their garbage or recycling bins, and they’re allowed to place up to three bulky items – like mattresses, furniture, appliances and old computers – on the curb for pickup, along with latex paint and batteries.

But that service isn’t available to people who live in apartments or other multifamily housing, like the condominium complex where Basco lives.

In her letter, Basco said the only option the hauler offered her was a commercial-sized, 10-cubic-yard dumpster, at a cost of $549.80 for the rental plus $115.91 for delivery and an additional $95.85 of the weight of the items being disposed of exceeded two tons. Residents who receive the on-call service, in contrast, get one annual pickup for free – and can schedule additional ones for $127.28, she wrote.

The city’s contract with Alameda County Industries is in place until 2022, said Liam Garland, administrative services manager for Alameda’s public works department. But he said the city will look into whether the hauler can expand provision of the on-call service to more residents.

“The City and ACI will sit down and explore whether the franchise might be amended to include on-call bulky service pickups for multifamily properties with five units or more,” Garland said.

He said providing the service to larger properties could pose logistical challenges that include finding a location on the property to store bin, securing them against unauthorized use and figuring out how to bill individual residents on a multifamily property.

But that’s a problem other cities seem to have solved, Basco said. Garbage giant Waste Management provides one free bulky item pickup a year to all of its residential customers in the Sacramento Valley burg of Winters, and residents in the town of East Rochester, N.Y. provides a similar service once a month.

Garland said Alameda residents who don’t have on-call service can take their larger items to the Davis Street transfer station in San Leandro and drop batteries and other hazardous waste at the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste’s Oakland facility, which is just over the Park Street Bridge. People who call ahead can drop off computers and other e-waste at Redux on Lincoln Avenue.

“We recognize that this is less convenient, but illegal dumping is not the solution,” he said.

Basco said she was glad to hear the city is exploring a contract change to expand bulky item pickup, but she questioned whether those who don’t have it will schlep large items they’re ready to get rid of off the Island.

“Sadly, many families in five-plus units don't hop across the Park Street Bridge or drive to the Davis Street transfer station. They leave their bulky couches, bookshelves, desks and mattresses curbside,” she said.

She said plans to build new apartments and other multifamily housing on the Island for the first time in more than four decades will only increase the need for the pickup service.

“In light of all the new (multifamily) housing developments being discussed, now is a good time to readdress the contract and make the dumpster service available to more people,” Basco said.


Submitted by C. (not verified) on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

Hauling things to the Davis St. Transfer station requires a truck or large vehicle. They also charge to drop things off - it is not free and it certainly isn't convenient. While you can post large bulky items for free on Craig's list or Alameda Freecycle, there is a limit to what people want to come pick up from you - even if it's free. Often the very things that get illegally dumped are old, soiled upholstered furniture and mattresses. Charities won't take these (nor should they) so your options are limited. This is an important article that makes a lot of sense. ACI seems as if it is just offering excuses. If an annual free dumpster can be provided to larger complexes in other communities, why not here?

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

Mary Grace has an excellent point. Clearly it contributes to curbside dumping.

I've often thought it kind of a waste that homes getting the annual mini dumpster don't use either use all the space or the allotment of 3 bulky items outside the container. If only there was some organized way to see who isn't using that space and take advantage of that.

That of course won't fix the problem that apartment and condo dwellers face. Does the ACI contract generate revenue in some way for the City of Alameda? Does ACI make political contributions? Just wondering.

Submitted by Kay (not verified) on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

If you have the minimum garbage service (I have the tiny can) they won't pick it up, even at a single family house. I had to pay big $$ for a mattress pick up because it says in the fine print "Also, customer must subscribe to a minimum of 20 gallons of garbage service."

Submitted by Mary Grace Basco (not verified) on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

@Kay - That is ridiculous!! ACI is penalizing families that are already doing a great job at reducing waste. In my eyes, this should totally be a free service to customers ONLY filling the smaller can! You should be rewarded not charged extra!