By Marlena Chavira-Medford
The city of Del Mar may soon offer an incentive for residents who recycle.
Right now, the city charges one flat fee for trash collection at all single-family residences. But city staff is now proposing a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) system, which would charge homeowners based on how much trash they put out on the curb every week. The thought is that this could potentially save money for residents while encouraging them to recycle and compost.
The PAYT system would likely offer 32-, 64- and 96-gallon carts for trash, and an unlimited capacity for recyclable material. There would be a base rate using the 64- or 94-gallon cart sizes, and then additional fees for anyone who went over trash capacity. There would also be reduced rates for residents who generated less trash and only used a 32-gallon bin — thereby encouraging recycling and composting.
The PAYT rate scale will be determined based on feedback from community workshops, which have yet to scheduled. If the community is strongly opposed to the proposed changes, a Citizens Advisory Committee could be formed. There will also be an outreach campaign that will educate residents on recycling and backyard composting.
Proposition 218 requires cities to alert property owners of any changes to property-related fees. Therefore, Del Mar staff will be mailing notifications of the pending change in trash collection rates to all property owners and ratepayers, and inviting protests to the proposed changes.
Should a majority of ratepayers protest the changes in rates, the new rates cannot be implemented.
Based on input from the Sustainability Advisory Board, this summer the city launched a pilot program
with semi-automated collection, using standardized wheeled carts for both solid waste and recycling, which the city staff is proposing. The program seems to have been successful in promoting recycling: In August, there were 530 recyclable pounds collected, by October there were 760 recyclable pounds collected, and by January there were 1,050 recyclable pounds collected.