City council disposes proposed trashcan ordinance


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City officials say they will continue to explore options to alleviate neighborhood trash problems after an ordinance meant to do just that was shot down by the city councilors.

The Iowa City City Council voted down a measure on Tuesday that would have required residents to store residential solid waste, yard waste, and recycling containers no farther than 2 feet from the wall of their residential buildings.

Mayor Matt Hayek said the city staff members have been directed to continue looking at options.

“There are no easy solutions to this problem,” he said. “We decided to take no steps but instead to continue to look at the issue and come up with a solution that makes sense … every house is unique; it makes it hard to come up with a fair, logical solution… and some people have limited physical abilities.”

The ordinance would have furthered the goal to reduce trash issues, as outlined in the city’s strategic plan.

The measure failed on a vote of 6-1; Councilor Rick Dobyns was the sole proponent of the item. This was the ordinance’s first consideration.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton said he opposed the measure “mainly because the people who initially proposed it seemed to be of mixed minds now on whether the specific proposal would actually improve things.”

A similar ordinance was up for debate earlier this year, proposing that storage of residential waste, yard waste, and recycling containers be located behind the front building line of a residential structure or screened from public view. City councilors deferred that proposal in February.

Doug Boothroy, the director of the Department of Housing and Inspection Services, said he drafted the most recent proposal after members of the North Side Neighborhood Association presented numerous examples of rental units with unsightly trash containers.

“[The trash cans] were often overflowing before trash day and were creating a nuisance because, not only were they overflowing, but there was trash stacked behind and around them,” he said. “And the other issue was that the carts were oftentimes left near the street or in the front-yard area, not pulled back as required by the existing ordinance.”

Sarah Clark, the recorder for the North Side Neighborhood Association, said she personally is not in favor of the ordinance.

Throgmorton said he went to a North Side Neighborhood Association meeting more recently and found only around half of its members supported the change, while the other half were opposed.

“I expect the city staff will come back to us with a different proposal,” he said.

Though Boothroy said he currently doesn’t have another option for the council’s consideration.

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