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Council voices support for new 'hybrid' spring cleanup program

New program would feature personalized curbside pickup and an annual drop-off event

In early June, after West Linn Refuse and Recycling (WLRR) proposed significant changes to the City’s popular Spring Cleanup Program, the City Council was receptive but asked for WLRR to come back with details on costs and potential alternatives.

Nearly two months later, at an Aug. 1 work session, WLRR did just that, presenting a “hybrid” option that was conceived with the help of the City’s Sustainability Advisory Board and would save about $23,000 in annual costs.

Under the current program, WLRR takes one day every year to pick up excess waste from residents’ curbsides across the city, free of charge. The program has been in place since 2001, but at the June meeting WLRR said a number of problems have cropped up in recent years.

According to a memo to the City Council from Public Improvement Specialist Dylan Digby, the cost of the program rose from $36,322 in 2008 to $53,191 in 2016. Additionally, WLRR has seen residents from surrounding cities “rent” curb space in West Linn for the cleanup, and scrap collectors have also taken to rummaging through the curbside materials.

WLRR said there have also been issues with prohibited or hazardous wastes being left out for pickup.

To alleviate some of these problems, WLRR originally proposed a move to a “twice-yearly personalized cleanup collection program,” during which customers would request pickups of their own at any time they want. After further evaluation, the new “hybrid” option would provide residents with an annual voucher for one curbside pickup (rather than two as originally proposed), and the other clean-up opportunity would come in the form of a drop-off event hosted once a year by WLRR.

“We’re recommending the hybrid,” WLRR representative Steve Donovan said. “This brings the annual program cost more in line.”

Indeed, the hybrid option is projected to cost about $33,535 annually — significantly less than the estimated future cost of the current model ($56,705). The curbside pickup voucher would be intended for the removal of larger, bulkier items that wouldn’t fit in a car, while other smaller items could be brought to the annual drop-off event.

Donovan said the Willamette Christian Church on Salamo Road would be an ideal location for the drop-off event, given its large parking area.

“And it’s central, so that’s nice,” Mayor Russ Axelrod said.

Sustainability Advisory Board Chair Alex Mihm, for his part, said the board was pleased with the new proposal.

“We were very impressed with the presentation they brought to us,” Mihm said. “We were all very excited, put it to a vote and everyone voted in favor.”

He added that the drop-off event could become a larger version of other efforts like the annual community shredding event.

Moving forward, WLRR will continue to work with the Sustainability Advisory Board and return with a formalized proposal for the council to vote on.

Food waste composting

WLRR also addressed the idea of introducing a food waste composting program in West Linn, passing around a small pail that would be used to collect food waste before it is dumped in with yard debris and picked up by WLRR.

Donovan said the program would add about $2.81 to customers’ solid waste bills, thus increasing average costs per month from $24.78 to $27.59 — an 11 percent increase. Condo owners and commercial customers would not be included, given that they are not part of the yard debris pickup program.

The council expressed concerns with costs and the idea of food waste being mixed with yard debris in the composting process. Mayor Russ Axelrod also noted that he does his own composting at home, and option that others could utilize as well with the right educational opportunities.

Ultimately — in a similar vein to the Spring Cleanup program — the council opted to pass the issue on to the Sustainability Advisory Board for more research and perhaps a community survey.

“I think for me the best course of action would be to include it in the annual survey for folks,” City Councilor Thomas Frank said. “We have a potential rate increase, so we can see what the interest is and next year you could work on it if (the interest) is there.”

City Councilor Brenda Perry added that she did not want to put more of a burden on those with fixed incomes.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..