Bears are no longer welcome at Tahoe-Douglas trash cans.
The Douglas County Commissioners adopted an ordinance Thursday to deal with people who experience repeated problems with bears getting into their trash.
The ordinance stipulates that offenders will be given two warnings to remedy the problem. After a third offense within a two-year period, a fine will be issued. The ordinance is expected to go into effect Oct. 1.
The commission introduced the ordinance May 24 and held public hearings on it June 21 and Thursday. Despite continuing public opposition the measure passed 4-1 with Commissioner Steve Weissinger dissenting.
Representatives from Tahoe-Douglas General Improvement Districts spoke at Thursday's meeting. They said they felt that the bear-proof collection bins are too expensive and unsightly.
"The Lakeridge General Improvement District has examined the proposal and strongly opposes it," said John McCall, Lakeridge district member. "We are unconvinced that such a measure is needed. These things are big and ugly. Where would they be placed? We have areas that are steep with little access to the road."
The commissioners amended the ordinance to more carefully define "responsible parties." In addition they added a clause that the offenses must occur within a two-year span in order for penalties to take effect.
Commissioner Don Miner said he felt people opposing the ordinance did not understand its true nature. He stressed that people who do not have bear problems with their trash will not be affected with the ordinance.
"It only applies to those persons that are repeat offenders and it will be enforced on a complaints made basis," Miner said. "Those responsible parties are prior offenders, which means they've had one and two previous offenses within a two-year period. After a second offense they will be required to buy a bear-proof container and if there is another offense they will be fined $100."
Commissioner Kelly Kite recognized the remaining public opposition to the ordinance. He pointed out that if the ordinance produces undue hardship for Tahoe-Douglas residents, it can easily be repealed.
"If it comes to the point where it turns out we are forcing everyone in the basin to buy bear-proof trash containers then I will put it on the agenda to be pulled myself," Kite said. "Our intent here is not to sell a bunch of bear-proof containers. Our intent is to mitigate a problem."