Six universal collection areas in Kern protest trash collection fee,
BY CLAUDIA ELLIOTT Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist. She can be reached by email: claudia@ claudiaelliott.net.
An $8.6 million plan to help Kern County meet the requirements of Senate Bill 1383 by mandating residential trash collection and adding the cost to tax rolls may be stymied by property owners in Tehachapi and five other universal collection areas.
SB 1383 is a state law aimed at reducing landfill emissions by ensuring that organics are recycled. The county is under pressure to comply with state law — if local governments don’t comply in time, penalties are $10,000 a day or as much as $3.65 million a year.
Lisa Shreder, assistant director of solid waste for the Kern County Public Works Department, said Friday morning that the Tehachapi Universal Collection Area was one of six UCAs that have successfully protested the fee through Proposition 218.
Proposition 218 requires local governmental agencies to give property owners a 45-day protest period before voting on certain matters, including rate increases. If 50 percent plus one of the affected property owners formally protest, the increase cannot occur.
Public hearings before the Board of Supervisors were set to take place Tuesday to address the county’s latest plan.
A hearing must be held for each of the 14 universal collection areas. The county’s latest plan calls for residents to be provided three bins — one each for household waste, organic waste and recycling — with annual fees of varying amounts added to property tax bills.
Shreder said in October, at an informational meeting held in Tehachapi, that the county doesn’t know what will happen if Proposition
218 hearings block the imposition of the fee.
She said Friday morning that besides Tehachapi, the UCAs in Boron, Frazier Park, Kern Valley, McFarland and Mojave have submitted enough protest ballots to block the fee. Activists in other areas, including Ridgecrest, still hoped to do the same. Ballots must be received by the county no later than the beginning of Tuesday’s public hearing.
“Mission accomplished,” Tehachapi resident Angela Quinn said Thursday after learning that Kern County Public Works had received even more protest ballots than needed to block a county plan to add a $559.80 annual fee to property tax bills of more than 450 Tehachapi area residents.
Quinn’s comment was posted to a Facebook page she set up to help organize opposition to the county plan.
She said she became involved in the protest movement because she and her husband, Kirk, felt adding anything to their property taxes was unjustified.
“As Americans, we have a duty to stand up to our government,” she said. “Kirk and I are very lucky to have found hardworking people to help us in this fight. We all need to step up when we can, no matter how small. Small steps can lead to big results.”
Richard Nuckolls was among Tehachapi residents who worked to inform neighbors about the county’s plan. He said he plans to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting.
“We’re very passionate about this,” Nuckolls said of local residents who worked to protest the tax.
He said the county didn’t consider the problems that three trash bins would create in rural areas, especially with the wind and extreme weather in Tehachapi.
He said many rural residents haul their own trash and recycle organics on their property.
Carlene Feichter of Tehachapi said she and her husband, Steven Patton, object to the $560 annual fee and other features of the county’s plan. Like many residents of the Tehachapi UCA, they live on a road that isn’t maintained by the
“We take our trash and recyclables, like good citizens, to the Tehachapi
landfill site,” the couple wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “When the recycling done formerly by Benz and taken over by Waste Management (was discontinued) we began taking (recyclables) to either FIELD or the landfill. If we were given a local option to take our organic waste, we would do so as well as our non-CRV plastics.”
Feichter also questioned why the county is mandating the collection of household trash and recyclables when SB 1383 is only concerned with organics.
The UCA public hearings before the Board of Supervisors are set to begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 1115 Truxtun Ave., Bakersfield.
Alberta Newspaper Group