Bear necessities |

Bear necessities

Jack Barnwell

South Tahoe Basin Waste Management Authority boardmembers discussed bear garbage necessities on Wednesday, including proposals on enforcement and no-interest loans.

Tom Bruen, attorney for the authority, provided suggestions for all three board members to take back to their jurisdictions for consideration. El Dorado County, Douglas County and South Lake Tahoe all have seats on the board to regulate garbage on the South Shore.

The board has discussed how to establish a consistent method of how to curb bears getting into trash and enforcement measures for people who habitually ignore rules, such as setting trash out too early before collection.

Bruen said the proposed outlines include requiring all commercial and multi-family dwelling dumpsters or bins to have heavy plastic or metal bear-resistant lids with locking bars, be locked at dusk and unlocked no earlier than sunrise and have lids closed during the day.

Single-family residential homes varied, split between new or remodeled homes and existing homes. Owners of newly constructed residences would be required to install and use a bear resistant structure.

Jeff Tillman, co-owner and president of South Tahoe Refuse, recommended any guidelines require owners to unlock the bin, not the refuse company. Placing that responsibility on sanitation workers would make things more cumbersome.

Existing homes could keep garbage cans in an enclosed area inaccessible to bears and be removed only when collected by a garbage franchise such as South Tahoe Refuse.

Board members debated some of the requirements, including Douglas County representative and chair Nancy McDermid. Douglas County doesn’t have mandatory pickups for its residents.

Bruen said it could be flexible depending on how different jurisdictions handle trash collection.

JoAnn Conner, representing South Lake Tahoe, said there should be some flexibility regarding people remodeling their homes, especially if they don’t have issues with bears and garbage.

“I just hate the idea of government requiring the one-size-fits-all for everybody and requiring things of people who haven’t done anything wrong,” Conner said.

Sue Novasel, representing El Dorado County, disagreed, seeing it as a solution to a problem.

Bruen recommended enforcement ideas that might carry a stiff fine for each offense. First offenses would warrant a written warning, a second offense a $200 fine, a third $400, and subsequent offenses would result in $200 increases.

Fines could be waived if property owners install a bear-resistant structure (like a bear box) within 120 days of receiving a notice, and provides proof to local code enforcement agencies.

McDermid recommended consistency across all three jurisdictions in the South Lake Tahoe Basin to make things simple for South Tahoe Refuse. Novasel and Conner agreed.

“I think it is very fair because it punishes those who are doing wrong and leaves the rest alone,” Conner said.

A proposal for a no-interest loan through the Authority was placed on hold pending how to work out details on how it could be billed. Bruen said Placer County has been looking at something similar and it could be worth looking at.

Bruen said he would make appropriate revisions to address concerns of commercial and multi-residential dwellings and remodeled homes. Additions would also include a trigger to require bear-resistant boxes or containers installed after three offenses.

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