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‘It’s trashy’: Grass Valley City Council responds to Waste Management shortcomings

Grass Valley City Council members, including Council member Jan Arbuckle (center) respond to a presentation given by Waste Management representatives regarding the recent shortcomings.
Photo: Elias Funez

Overflowing trash bins — sometimes left for days without being picked up — have become a topic of concern among many in Western Nevada County, including members of the Grass Valley City Council who did not mince words as to their frustration with the situation when WM Public Sector Manager Shavati Karki-Pearl came before the council Tuesday.

“We’ve had early in the year a bunch of Covid leaves, we had cart delays due to supply chain delays, we had hired a third party back in April and May in order to catchup with our services and our cart deliveries,” Karki-Pearl said to the council.

“During the pinnacle we had 60% of our drivers out on various eligible state protected leave. WM got help from other districts and national green team relief drivers,” Karki-Pearl said.

“With all the assistance, and working on weekends, we were able to pick up all the solid waste for which we give priority to. However recycling in some areas still needed to be carried over, and sometimes time and again.”

Karki-Pearl explained the shortcomings when it comes to communicating with customers.

“When there’s a carryover, we send out messages based on the customers’ notification preference, we would typically tell them when to expect the delayed cart to be picked up,” Karki-Pearl said.

“We have found that a lot of our customers actually are not signed up to receive notifications or have not opted in. Sot they would not receive the notification and not know what to do with their carts.”

“When we realized that we weren’t able to pick up carts on the carryover date, sometimes we’ve had to move the dates again. So this caused a lot of upset and frustration for those customers. To the point where we got to stop giving out dates if we can’t pick it up. So we sent out a message which was very ambiguous saying we will pick it up when we can, that did not go over well. That caused more upset.”

Karki-Pearl explained that customers with missed pickups will not be charged for overfull bins.

Mayor Ben Aguilar questioned if a bag sitting next to the trash bin would be ok considering the delay in trash pickups.

“That’s not possible, because then the driver has to get out and that would delay them to finish their routes,” Karki-Pearl said.

Karki-Pearl suggested providing a voucher for the green waste customers who were left behind.

“Is that instead of a refund?” Council member Bob Branstrom asked. “Residents of the City and the County are paying for a service that they are not getting.”

“I recently got an email from my mother that was addressed to Council member Hodge,” Council member Hillary Hodge said to Karki-Pearl.

“Not, hi honey how are you, not dear lovely daughter, and it was about your garbage pickup.”

Council member Jan Arbuckle had more to say regarding a lack in customer service from WM.

“To think we can go four weeks without any other recourse, that’s not ok,” Arbuckle said.

She referenced a letter given to the council from WM representatives.

“Really, would you send this same letter to the City Council in Los Angeles? Or are you sending it to us because we are a small rural community? Because they don’t think that there’s any pushback that we can do? And that I resent more than anything, It’s not fair to anybody that lives in Nevada County to have that attitude portrayed in a letter.”

Mayor Aguilar rounded up the feedback.

“People don’t want to have garbage piling up in front of their house, or next to their house, or around their community. I’ts very frustrating, It’s trashy,” Aguilar said.

“Aside from Waste Management getting their house in order. I’d like to see a bigger partnership with the community, bigger sponsorship with events. It seems like Waste Management forgot what they used to be, a big part of this community.

“I’d like to see more sponsorships instead of just trash pickups,” Aguilar said before suggesting that he would like to see a donation to the community’s Fourth of July fireworks display.

To contact Managing Editor Elias Funez email efunez@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4230.


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