We had a great meeting last night at the library—one of the ones I host about every quarter. Among other topics, we discussed:
New garbage totes. Some people are dissatisfied with the different shape (and apparent smaller size) of the new automated garbage totes. The totes are printed with the City logo, and are not returnable to the seller. So what can we do?
First, make sure you were delivered the correct size tote. The tote size is printed on the lid, and your city utility bill indicates what level of service you’ve selected. The bill will say 20 or 32 gallon service, but the new small totes are actually larger than you had before at 24 gallons each. (The next size up is still a 32-gallon tote.)
Second, try packing your new tote differently. Because the actual volume is in fact larger than you had before, the only new constraint is the shape of the tote. Try removing bulky items from your trash bags and packing them in separately, or try flattening the trash bags before putting them into the totes.
Finally, consider whether you want to change your service level. Don’t just trade totes with a neighbor (because each one has a serial number and is registered to your account). Call the City at 293-1900 and ask to change your solid waste service. Your options for residential totes:
- one small tote: $7
- one medium totes: $13
- two medium totes: $23
- three medium totes: $33
Note that larger totes (of 64 gallons or 96 gallons, like our recycle and yard waste bins) are not available for residential services.
Holiday garbage pickup. People also expressed the (recurring) concern about not having garbage pickup in weeks with holidays on pickup day. For Monday pickup, which is much of Ward 1, a lot of holidays fall on pick up days, requiring residents to hold trash for two weeks, and now requiring truck operators to get out of their trucks to pick up trash by hand—which our new automation system is intended to avoid.
I’ve been pushing for every-week pickup for the last 30 months, and now we might actually be finally moving closer; at the end of next year, our recycle and yard waste contracts will simultaneously end and we’ll be able to bid out both services together to a single provider. That’ll provide an opportunity to require those providers to pick up every week, and we can direct our own solid waste staff to do the same. I’ll also be pushing for better options in terms of food waste pickup, so that residents without a 96-gallon yard waste bin will get options for smaller containers at reduced cost.
N Ave Park. Several residents asked about what we could do to continue improvements to N Ave Park—about half an acre at the north end of N Avenue between Trident and Reisner. I recommend people that are interested in pushing for park improvements contact our city councilmembers on the City Council Parks Committee—Brad Adams, Erica Pickett, Liz Lovelett—and asking for that to be prioritized. On July 21, we’ll be holding a public hearing on the Capital Facilities Plan, and that would be a good opportunity to advocate for park improvements before the entire City Council.
Some other park-related items:
- The entire City Council and the mayor seem to agree that we must replace the Storvik Park bathrooms next year. That is likely to finally actually happen. The upper bathrooms at Washington Park are also a priority.
- I’m pushing for us to prioritize our existing project to plant the wetlands at the H Ave Park (a project that has been in our plan since 2006), especially because those wetlands may help us deal with the fecal coliform pollution problem we have in that area.
- I’m excited that we’ll finally be making improvements to the City’s cemetery in the next few years with funds from the Water Utility after it purchases some unused cemetery property to construct a replacement water tower on the east side of Whistle Lake Road.
- By 2018, we may be moving forward with a pocket Commercial Ave park between Penguin Coffee and Select Styling in the unused alley on that block. Residents agreed it was a great idea, but appropriately de-prioritized over the necessary improvements to our existing parks.
Streets. As you’ve probably read, the City Council is considering a pavement improvement initiative, which I’ll write more about later. Residents seem supportive of the proposed $20 car tabs and 9-percentage-point increase in the solid waste tax that would help fund the initiative. I expressed my commitment to not authorize more money for streets without a concrete plan for what streets we would actually pave.
Marijuana. We currently have a moratorium on recreational marijuana facilities (all three types: retail, processing, and production). The public hearing on our permanent regulations was continued to July 7, after which we may adopt the permanent regulations which would allow retail marijuana in the Commercial zone and LM1 zone, and production and processing in just the LM1 zone. You can see the zoning map here.
We recently imposed a new moratorium on medical marijuana after the State Court of Appeals for Division 1 ruled in Cannabis Action v City of Kent that the medical marijuana statute doesn’t actually make medical marijuana or collective gardens legal. We’ll be doing more with this, but I don’t expect we’ll allow collective gardens again. Instead, we expect the state Legislature to reform the medical marijuana statute and eliminate the unregulated collective gardens in favor of only allowing the highly-regulated recreational establishments.
Oversized Parking on Residential Streets. The Council has been working on regulations that would largely prohibit parking oversize vehicles, RVs, and boats in the city right-of-way. Our Planning Department is resource-constrained right now, but we’re continuing to push for these regulations to get completed. Some people suggested continuing to allow oversized parking, but by permit only.
Blue tarps and code enforcement. Residents continued to ask for more and better enforcement of our land use codes, especially to eliminate temporary tarps and tent buildings. I believe we’d be much more effective at code enforcement if we had a city attorney, but we also simply need the administration to be more aggressive at code enforcement. If you have a complaint, you can submit a complaint form to the Building Department.
Semitrucks on M Avenue. Heavy trucks continue to damage our residential streets. The Council passed an ordinance last year (now codified at AMC Chapter 10.24) that restricts big trucks to designated truck routes in the City…but we still have a long way to go in terms of making the ordinance effective. More signs are clearly needed. I suggested we phase in larger fines. Some suggested photo enforcement. We’ll continue to investigate solutions through the City Council Public Works Committee.