Ordinance amends Oakland Municipal Code regarding location of refuse/trash receptacles

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading that amends the Municipal Code regarding the location of refuse and trash receptacles.
Board members took the action during their Sept. 18 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman John Troncone and seconded by Alderman Kelly Rector.
At its Jan. 16 meeting, the board approved a “moratorium” on enforcement of a section of the originally proposed ordinance that would have required trash bins to be “out of sight.”
Mayor Chris Goodman said that was defined as in the “garage, back yard” or hidden behind some type of “fence or structure.” While noting that the section has been “rewritten,” he said the amending ordinance removes that last provision.
“Now, I believe it has to be level with your house, up in your garage or in your back yard,” Goodman acknowledged. “It still doesn’t allow you to just leave it out at the street, but it does change the location to where it doesn’t require any extra building of devices to hide it.”
In response to a question by Alderman Karl Chambless, the mayor said the original ordinance allowed residents to leave garbage cans on the curb for three days if they were ill or on vacation.
That provision has not been removed in the amending ordinance.
During discussion at the Jan. 16 meeting, Troncone said he would like to amend the part of the original ordinance that would have required the receptacle to be “inside a garage or carport” or in “an enclosed and screened fenced area in the rear or side yard hidden from street view.”
Calling that “the most ridiculous thing” he has ever heard, the alderman said he would not support a provision that required the town’s elderly or any of its other residents to install a fence to enclose their garbage cans.
Rector agreed that it would “cause a burden” to require them to either put the receptacle behind the house or cover it up. Noting that Oakland is a “diverse community,” he said some houses do not have patios or garages.
But Town Recorder Tammie Hightower said deleting that part of the ordinance would remove any requirements, and residents could put their trash cans in the middle of their front yards.
“You may want to change the wording to where it could be at the side,” she said, “maybe not in a screened-in fence.”
When Chambless noted that his trash receptacle is hidden behind a bush he planted at the side of his house, Hightower said some residences may not have bushes around them.
Troncone said that, if the receptacle is hidden in the “scheme” of the structure or the building itself, he does not believe it needs to be “hidden from street view.” But Rector wondered whether that would allow a resident to put it in front of his house or in the driveway.
Town Planner Chris Pate suggested that “obstructed” be substituted for “hidden” in the wording of the ordinance. That way, he said, residents could put the receptacle behind an air conditioner, shrubs or fence.
But Hightower noted that some residents may not have “high-enough” shrubs.
Rector suggested the phrase “maintained and adjacent to the house.”
“That way,” he said, “you can’t leave your can upside down or with the lid open and trash everywhere.”
In response to a question by Troncone, Chambless acknowledged that “hidden in the scheme of the structure” could mean in the front or on the side of the house. But he noted that many Oakland residents have garages that do not face the street, and the receptacle is placed there.
“So, it’s seen from the street, but it’s up to the house,” he said. “I don’t see where that’s a problem.”
Asked by Chambless how the ordinance should be worded, Town Attorney Richard Myers said it would have to clearly define what constitutes a violation.
“You’re probably trying to avoid somebody leaving it at the curb or in his front yard, and it’s an eyesore,” he said. “As long as it’s not readily visible at the curb, you’ve probably accomplished your goal.”
But Myers said the board does not want to be “so inflexible” that residents would have to “expend a whole bunch of money” to make the receptacle “perfectly invisible” from the street.