County puts lid on trash issue for now
Tahoe Township residents could not bear the idea of a county ordinance requiring bear-proof trash containers at homes and businesses.
Douglas County commissioners took public comment on the issue at their Thursday meeting in Stateline, stressing bear-proof trash containers will not be required for residents who are responsible about putting out their garbage. They voted to continue the item until their next meeting in Tahoe July 19.
“It is not mandatory,” said Commissioner Don Miner. “It is only to improve a problem and through education it will be improved. It is really focused on the major offenders.”
Initially, members of the public were adamantly opposed to the proposed ordinance because they said the containers are too expensive and unsightly.
“My feeling is that this is a solution in search of a problem,” Lakeridge resident John McCall said. “In two years here I have had one bear encounter. I would point out that at least 70 percent of the people in our neighborhood are not residents or they are of an age that they could not go down to Home Depot and purchase a container and install it.”
Community members cooled when the commissioners had a chance to explain the nature of the ordinance, which would require three warnings before a citation could be issued. The commission also stressed enforcement will only be carried out in response to complaints.
“From a regulatory perspective it would be enforced by a complaints-made basis,” said Scott Doyle, Douglas County District Attorney. “In no way, shape or form does this ordinance require bear-proof trash bins.”
Jeff Tillman of South Tahoe Refuse was supportive of the installation of bear-proof trash containers where bears are a problem. He said it is a much better option than the practice of masking the smell with harsh chemicals.
“Ammonia may get rid of the bears but it may kill our guys,” Tillman said of refuse workers.
Anne Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, said Placer County is considering a similar ordinance. She said she is happy with both ordinances because they aim to effectively deal with the bear problem while not being burdensome on the community members.
“I think it is excellent,” Bryant said. “I think (the commission) is serious and I think it is going to go through. We’re so pleased with this. Along with what Placer County is doing now, these are the two best ordinances I have seen that will only affect the problem. That is fair and right and it calls people to be responsible.”
The commission will accept public comment and fine-tune the proposed ordinance until its next Tahoe meeting. If adopted July 19, the ordinance could go into effect within 30 days.
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