Leaving your trash bin on the curb for too long could soon draw a visit from a ticket-wielding city inspector.
Frustrated by the sight of empty garage cans lining streets in his Southwest Raleigh district, Councilman Thomas Crowder called for tougher enforcement to address the problem.
The trouble is most common in areas near N.C. State University filled with student rental housing, but its not just a student-driven problem, Crowder says. Many renters leave town on the weekends without bothering to roll back their cans. But even those who stay home sometimes leave out their cans.
Nothing is getting the attention of these folks, Crowder said. I could go through the whole district on a daily basis, but its not my job.
The City Council appears to be listening. A new set of rules that were scheduled for discussion this week would shorten the length of time bins are allowed to remain on the curb.
The new timeline would ask residents to take out their trash at sundown the night before pickup. The cans must be rolled back by sunrise the day after pickup.
Violators would get warnings followed by fines starting at $100. In a new approach, tickets would go to landlords instead of tenants, a change intended to get the attention of property owners.
About half of the 1,500 violations issued since 2011 involved rental properties, according to city figures. Councilman Randy Stagner, who represents North Raleigh, said he gets complaints occasionally.
For our neighborhoods, its more of a gentle, neighborly pressure applied for people to bring in their trash can, Stagner said. Councilman Crowder has more difficulty because of the transient population he has (in District D).
More eyes on street?
In budget talks this spring, council members will discuss adding more officers to the solid waste services staff an item likely to compete with many other priorities in a tight budget year. Each additional employee would cost about $55,000.
Currently, Raleigh has two code enforcement officers responsible for container violations in a city of 416,468 people.
By comparison, Charlotte (pop. 751,087) has 40 inspectors, with eight assigned to container violations. Greensboro (pop. 273,425) has three code enforcement officers for container violations.
McFarlane said shes not convinced that garbage can enforcement should take precedence over personnel needs such as law enforcement.
Crowder was quick with a response. He said the city would need more police if neighborhoods slip into neglect and decay.
If we lose the curb appeal, thats what families moving into these communities look at, Crowder said. The wives in most cases look at this and say, We dont want to live here. Its not fair to these fragile, at-risk neighborhoods.