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Fresno decides it’s better to change trash-can law than ignore it

Recycle and regular trash cans line Norris Drive in the Mayfair area of Fresno.The City Council Thursday decided such cans do not have to be hidden from public view, just out of rights-of-way.
Recycle and regular trash cans line Norris Drive in the Mayfair area of Fresno.The City Council Thursday decided such cans do not have to be hidden from public view, just out of rights-of-way. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Fresnans can stop ratting on neighbors who don’t put away their trash bins.

City officials didn’t care in the past. They have now made it official.

The City Council on Thursday modified the law that prohibited residents from storing trash bins in spots (generally front or side yards) that left the bins visible to passersby. The law already said the bins, when empty, must be removed from public rights-of-way.

The law now says residents simply must get the empty bins out of the public right-of-way.

The city is indifferent to whether the bins are stored by a home’s front door, pushed to the side of the house, set in the backyard or quartered in any other part of the property.

The council’s action was introduction of the bill. Adoption will come later.

The bill comes from Council President Oliver Baines. Gregory Barfield, his chief of staff, presented the details.

We want to make sure this is consistent with what our (code enforcement) priorities are.

Council President Oliver Baines on a change to Fresno’s hide-the-trash-bin law

Barfield said two themes are at play.

First, Fresno’s code enforcement division, with city officials’ blessing, stopped enforcing the hide-the-bins law during the Great Recession. Code-enforcement officers who survived periodic downsizing had better things to do.

Second, City Hall regularly gets phone calls from people complaining about neighbors who aren’t hiding their empty bins.

Telling callers that the city had decided to simply ignore an obvious violation of the law isn’t good public policy, Barfield said.

The city can now tell those busybody neighbors that, as long as the bins aren’t in the street, it’s a no-harm, no-foul situation.

In other action, the council:

▪ Welcomed the Kochi Sister City delegation as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the sister city relationship. Kochi delegates, apparently aware of the heat routinely generated on the council dais, presented a gift of Japanese hand fans. City officials returned the favor, presenting their visitors with a watercolor painting of City Hall.

▪ Postponed decisions on separate contracts to handle the processing of recyclables and green waste. Council members initially hoped to revisit the issue on Oct. 22. City Manager Bruce Rudd said it may take more than two weeks to provide council members with all the documentation they have requested.

▪ Rejected the lone proposal for construction of a two-megawatt solar energy plant at the wastewater treatment plant west of town. The proposal was too pricey for City Hall’s liking. More importantly, council members for some time have been peeved over the handling of this project.

▪ Approved a $92,000 deal with Jones and Madhavan Architecture Engineering to dig into the pros and cons of the Parks Department’s system of swimming pools. City officials said many of the wading, learner and deep-water pools need repairs or improvements.

George Hostetter: 559-441-6272, @GeorgeHostetter

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