Ray Bryars: It’s time to get serious about enforcing litter laws | TheUnion.com

Ray Bryars: It’s time to get serious about enforcing litter laws

I have a couple of questions for Nevada County community leaders:

The first question is: What do you see at the side of our roads as you drive to work, visit friends, go shopping, etc.?

The answer is “Trash!” Bags, boxes, wrappers, bottles, cans and all manor of stuff that is either tossed out or has blown out of the back of pickups or worse – Waste Management trucks.

One area that is seriously blighted is Brunswick Road from Sutton Way to Loma Rica. Previous letters to The Union have cited witnessing of trash blowing out of Waste Management vehicles. As Dave Hallock noted in his Nov. 12, 2015 letter to the editor:

I for one would volunteer to drive behind a Waste Management truck for a few hours a week documenting litter law violations. A few $1,000 fines may get some much-needed attention.

“Wanna stop a huge portion of the trash on our roads? Then start following and ticketing Waste Management trucks.”

Tom Behimer asked, “Waste Management above (littering) law?” He pointed to the trash coming from trucks on Brunswick Road. He states, “How do I know that most of the litter is from Waste Management trucks? I have been behind them and see material fly out from the top. I travel this route twice a day. The trucks congregate at the Loma Rica station, so this is a feeder road for them. Other areas of the county do not have so much trash alongside the road.”

Despite the authors documenting specific instances, I don’t believe that any citations resulted and no improvements were seen.

The second question is: What are you doing about it? Sadly the answer is “nothing.”

Surely you see the same things I do as you move around town and since there has been no effort to clean up the trash or put in place programs that would bring an end to the mess, I am forced to believe that you don’t care. Well, you should care.

This is a reflection on our community and residents, tourists, potential new residents and business owners do see the trash and it will almost certainly impact decisions to pay a return visit, decide to move here or to open a business in the community. I maintain that the trash along our roads has a direct impact on our economy and that this should be taken into account when funding enforcement, clean-up or putting in place educational programs.

According to Wikipedia: “A significant portion of litter along roadways in the U.S. is now being attributed to improperly tarped vehicles such as open-bed vehicles as well as trash and recycling collection vehicles that have not been properly secured.”

From YubaNet, Nov. 3, 2007: Nevada County McCourtney Road Transfer Station Improvements

“Since January 1, 2008, there has been a program of maximum enforcement of the Covered Load ordinance and State law begins. Residents need to have their loads completely secured or they will face State fines of $1,000 and county fines of $100 to $500 … “Tarp it, tie it, or face a hefty fine.”

Do we really enforce this law? Judging by the trash that I’ve seen blowing out of trucks including Waste Management trucks, I don’t think so. I believe that we can get a leg up on the problem by getting our local law enforcement to check truck beds in parking lots and ticket those who need a reminder to cover their loads.

So how about our community leaders set a good example by initiating a “Clean Up Brunswick Day?” I’m hopeful that with community support we could make a dent in this blight. After cleanup we need to get serious about enforcing the litter laws. I for one would volunteer to drive behind a Waste Management truck for a few hours a week documenting litter law violations. A few $1,000 fines may get some much-needed attention.

I’ve heard community leaders talk about improving the “gateways” into Grass Valley. I suggest we clean up and maintain our existing “gateways” before we put any money into anything other than trash free roads and sidewalks.

Let’s get on top of this problem. The time to start is now!

Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Ryan Smalley: The true silent majority


I’ve been active in politics for my entire adult life, and I have my own very strong opinions regarding many issues. I have been a registered voter since I was 18 years old.

See more