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Citrus Heights residents could soon face fines for not sorting waste properly

By Mike Hazlip—
A year after a new state law took effect requiring residents to stop putting food waste in trash bins, Citrus Heights residents could soon be subject to fines.

In an email obtained by The Sentinel from Citrus Heights Areas Seven, Eight, and Nine, (CHASEN) neighborhood association, the waste management company contracted with the city, Republic Services, advised that residents could be subject to fines if inspectors find “contamination” in residents’ waste bins.

“As many of you already know, organics was implemented about 8 months ago, SB 1383 requires enforcement of improper separation, we now have employees going through carts, and carts with contamination are now subject to a fine. As a courtesy, fines are waived for first offense and outreach will be left on contaminated carts for reference of contamination found,” the email sent out by CHASEN said.

Republic services told The Sentinel in an email on Tuesday that improperly sorted carts will receive an “educational cart tag” indicating what contamination was found and how to properly sort the cart. The company began inspecting carts and tagging improperly sorted garbage since the state law took effect, according to the statement.

“Carts with a significant level of contamination are subject to a fee,” Republic Services said in the statement.

The company did not initially provide The Sentinel with a timeline or dates when fines could be issued, or if inspectors will be looking for contamination in all three carts. In a subsequent email, the company confirmed that audits are already underway and first-time offenders are given educational materials.

“At this time we are still distributing educational resources to help residents understand what materials go in their respective curbside carts,” Republic Services said. “Subsequent infractions can be subject to the program’s contamination fee.”

An email from Republic Services sent to Economic Development and Community Engagement Director Meghan Huber indicated that fines could begin soon, and all three carts are subject to inspections. Huber said SB 1383 requires cities to audit containers in order to be in compliance with the law.

“One full-time Republic Services representative checks randomly selected carts. All carts are subject to check, including food waste, recycling, and organics,” Huber confirmed. “Beginning shortly, carts with a significant level of contamination will be subject to a contamination fee.”

When contacted by The Sentinel for comment, Vice Mayor Bret Daniels sent a similarly worded response from Republic Services. Daniels last year was one of two council members who voted to oppose implementation of SB 1383.

“Not to be too dramatic about it, but I almost feel like it’s similar to the day when they dumped the tea into the Boston harbor and said ‘no’ to a very small tax,” Daniels said last year during the vote to approve increased waste removal fees and implement SB 1383. “I feel like: why don’t we take our garbage cans down to the capitol and dump em out and tell them ‘No, we’re not doing it.’”

“I know it’s gonna pass, but again guys at some point we’re also elected to be the voice of the community and I can guarantee you the community doesn’t support this,” Daniels said at the time. “At some point are we gonna push back, or are we gonna continue to let ourselves be pushed around?”

From last year: Citrus Heights council votes 3-2 for waste fee hike, amid opposition

The majority of council members reluctantly supported implementation of the organics waste recycling mandate in order to avoid penalties from the state, but agreed to send the legislature a “strongly worded resolution objecting to SB 1383.”

The organics recycling program, initiated with the passage of Senate Bill 1383 by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016, aims to reduce methane emissions by reducing the amount of organic waste in landfills. The law requires jurisdictions to provide weekly organic waste collection services, or face hefty penalties.

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