Bird Rock seeks trash service upgrades from the city

By Ashley Mackin

After voicing concerns about the trash problem at beach outlooks, members of the Bird Rock community and property owners paying into the Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) are looking to the city to resume the trash services that were cut.

Bird Rock resident and former MAD manager Joe LaCava explained that in 2009, the city cut trash pickup services at lookout points that do not have beach access as a way to save money. Bird Rock has three outlooks affected by the service cuts — at the ends of Forward Street, Midway Street and Bird Rock Avenue.

As a temporary solution, residents bought trash cans and placed them at these lookouts, with pickup services incorporated into the MAD budget. The MAD has funded the pickup since 2009, though the Bird Rock Community Council has repeatedly petitioned the city to restore the service and install concrete trash cans. The cans are emptied twice a week, but some citizens say that is not enough.

Resident Joyce Snell explained that the cans fill up quickly, and with only biweekly pickups, that leads to overflow and trash falling out of the cans. Additionally, because the cans do not have a heavy lid, birds pull out trash, causing a litter problem. Contractors empty the cans and put in a new liner, and will pick up litter when it is right next to the cans, but do not explore the surrounding areas to pick up litter.

Snell also reported that the lookout points have a storm drain, so when there is litter, it inevitably gets into the storm drain. “This outlook brings hundreds of tourists here,” she said, “And when there is litter and full trash cans, it looks like a third world country. It’s pretty pathetic. It’s not a good showcase of La Jolla.

“What I’m looking for is the city to replace the cans with heavier receptacles that have a dome on top, like at all the parks. It wouldn’t tip over; the birds wouldn’t get to it.”

BRCC treasurer Barbara Dunbar, who helps manage the MAD, said she reached out to District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner to see if the city has extra concrete trash cans it could place at two of the outlook locations.

“We have an indication there are some available, (the city is) looking to see what they’ve got. If they can find some, we want them installed as quickly as possible,” she said.

As they have done in past years, the BRCC reluctantly included trash pickup to the MAD budget for 2014-2015, just in case the city cannot fund the pickup services.

If the city provides the heavier trash cans, MAD could still fund the pickup service, though Dunbar said she would prefer not to do that because she believes these are services the city should be covering. “Is it fair that MADs have to pay for what other areas get as a service?” she posed.

The MAD was established to help maintain the landscaped roundabouts when they were installed in 2004.

LaCava explained that the community saw value in having the MAD provide extra cleaning services the city doesn’t get to, such as gutter cleaning and trash pickup. The MAD is funded by property taxes assessed on single family residences, condos and commercial property owners, and range between $90-$450 per year.

Dunbar said there was initially some confusion among residents, who thought the MAD was not funding the pickup service at all. At previous meetings, residents would suggest the MAD incorporate trash pickup into the budget, not knowing it already was. However, she said, “There’s been some confusion by some people, because either more trash is accumulating faster that it can be emptied and birds are getting into trash cans and pulling stuff out,” leading to the assumption it was not being picked up.

“The ultimate goal is to have the city go back to providing the trash pickup service at the designated coastal overlooks as it had done previously,” Dunbar said. “It really is a city responsibility.”