Dumpster diving no longer allowed
Colusa officials are about to make Dumpster diving illegal.
The City Council introduced a new ordinance Tuesday that will prohibit individuals from scavenging, stealing or removing materials from curbside bins.
The action came following complaints from Colusa residents in March that people were taking recyclable material out of the bins for their own financial gain, when it is intended to help the city's contracted garbage hauler — Recology — offset the cost of providing the service at no extra charge to customers.
"Recology does calculate recyclable material as revenue," confirmed Colusa City Manager Jan McClintock. "Plastics, for example, are sold by the tonnage, not for the CRV."
Colusa Mayor Tom Reische was the only member of the council to oppose the new law, and has long fought any sort of action taken to make Dumpster diving a crime.
"It doesn't bother me in the least," Reische said.
Reische's position is similar to law enforcement's in that once something is discarded, it no longer belongs to the original owner.
But other council members, business owners and residents want their refuse to continue to pay for the cost of having the material collected so it stays out of the landfills and protects the environment.
"I want to be able to say 'stay out of our garbage, stay out of our recycling or we will call the police,'" said Colusa resident Cynthia White. "Can that be enforced?"
Colusa officials say yes.
Once the ordinance goes into effect — 30 days after final approval — Colusa police will be able to charge anyone caught removing material form trash or recycling bins with an infraction.
It will be enforced on a complaint basis only, said Interim Police Chief Ross Stark.
Under the new ordinance, all recyclable material placed in the bins will belong to the garbage hauler, including aluminum cans and plastic soda and water bottles.
City officials hope the new law will cut down on the theft of the bins themselves and the displacement of items and mess associated with the scavenging process.
"I hope it stops it altogether," said Councilwoman Donna Critchfield. "Once the materials go in, they cannot be taken out by anyone."
The City Council is expected to adopt the ordinance at its July 19 meeting.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 458-2121 or email@example.com.