SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The City of South Lake Tahoe is taking care of the paperwork for the long prepared for and anticipated change in waste services.

Residents will receive three carts—a solid waste, recycling, and yard waste cart—by September 15.

At their meeting on Tuesday, June 4, City Council adopted an amendment to its current refuse and garbage code in order to implement the 3-cart system for residential members.

It will become fully adopted at their next meeting on June 18.

The switch is required by Senate Bill 1383, which requires each jurisdiction adopt a mandatory organic waste recycling ordinance. The state hopes the bill leads to the reduction of at least four million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030.

Residents expressed hesitant support at city council, some with questions and others with concerns.

One primary concern was how the new carts will hold up against bears.

According to South Tahoe Refuse’s website, the carts are animal resistant and have shown effective against bears in other mountain communities. The Wildlife Management Institute has certified them black bear resistant.

At city council, Councilmember Cristi Creegan noted the characterization as bear resistant and not bear proof, “which is some distinction in my opinion.”

STR still recommends trash not be placed out until the morning of collection.

Other worries included how snow removal will coordinate with trash pick up and where to store the carts, as well as the extra snow removal required to do so.

One of the commenters, David Gregorich, provided a recommendation for the city. “I think it would be really helpful for the city and the refuse company to put on a bit of a charm offensive to facilitate this transition. It’s universal. It’s a big change. It’s going to effect everybody.” He provided examples of community engagement on how both entities can share their thinking on how to accommodate changes.

Creegan noted she admired the phrase, charm offensive, and said she will be informing everyone of the 3-cart system at STR’s $5 dump day. Both Councilmember Tamara Wallace and Creegan addressed that change is hard, but almost everywhere has this system. “They are going to be a huge boon once the community gets used to them,” Wallace said.

The only councilmember who did not vote for the ordinance was Scott Robbins. “The fact that we have completely eliminated the incentive to put in any new bears boxes, I think for me,” he announced, “makes this enterprise not a good idea.”

In addition to the ordinance incorporating SB 1383 requirements, it also makes changes aligning with the city’s new franchise agreement with STR.

As part of the agreement, the ordinance states residences with bear boxes existing as of August 22, 2023 could elect to continue to use customer owned containers serviced from the bear box instead of the cart for solid waste. In council discussions, it became apparent that those installed after that date would not be serviced by STR.

After the meeting, STR President Jeff Tillam told the Tribune, this was a mistake, “so I will own it.” He informed that the refuse company will service bear boxes installed after that date.

“Our hope is more residents will use the bear [resistant] carts,” he says, “as it will help reduce injury to our employees.”

However, he acknowledges that using bear boxes, especially for out of town homeowners, helps with the bear problem.

Residential customers may share carts for recyclables and yard trimming so long as each has a contrainer for solid waste.

Residents can request more than one solid waste cart for an additional charge.

The ordinance amendment also gives multi-residential properties of five or more units the option to comply with these new residential requirements or commercial requirements. These properties can apply for a physical space waiver and show evidence they lack space required for the containers.

For other information regarding the new waste program, STR has created a webpage with frequently asked questions located on their website southtahoerefuse.com.