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Black and Blue

The City of San Diego announced new refuse-collection schedules on July 7. According to a press release, “The redesigned routes require drivers to work four 10-hour shifts each week, which will save the City $4.4 million and reduce the workforce by 40 positions.” The new schedule went into effect on July 12.

Monday is trash day on my block in Loma Portal. Blue recycling bins on wheels and their black counterparts that hold household waste were picked up this week. As I walked my dog on our morning route, we greeted some neighbors putting out their trash and others leaving for work.

One man was putting out a blue recycling container that was split horizontally across the front; he said he found it that way when he got home from work the previous week. Another man was rolling out a black bin with no lid. He said that the trash collectors had broken the lid off the previous week.

One neighbor had the garbage-can lid’s hinge pins knocked out one week, so he replaced them with corks. The next week, the lid was broken off by the trash men and taken away. After calling the City’s Collection Services department and being informed there was a $70 fee for a new trash can — plus a $25 delivery fee — he built a wood veneer lid that was broken off two weeks later.

On my eight-block walk, I counted five trash cans with missing lids, three cans with cracked or repaired lids, four cans with large impact cracks (presumably from where they bang against the truck to shake out the trash), three cans with homeowner-modified hinge pins, and four cans with broken front handles.

Mayor Jerry Sanders is quoted in the July 7 press release as saying the new schedule will have “minimal public impact.” With the new refuse-collection schedule — as personnel hurry to cover their larger, redesigned routes on longer work days — is it safe to assume that more garbage cans will be damaged to the point where they will have to be replaced? At a cost to residents of $95 a can, it doesn’t sound like “minimum public impact” to me!

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