City to step up enforcement, education of trash rules
Steamboat Springs — Increased enforcement and a public education campaign will replace the city of Steamboat Springs’ proposed trash rules that would have forced many residents to buy pricey bear-resistant trash containers.
The Steamboat Springs City Council last month balked at the stricter trash rules after hearing opposition from several constituents, so city staff had to come up with another plan to try and curb human encounters with wildlife in the city.
The city’s plan includes stricter enforcement of existing trash rules that don’t allow trash containers that aren’t bear-proof outside at certain hours, a public information and education campaign and a proposal to increase the fines for breaking the trash rules.
Residents also will be encouraged to report trash violations to the city.
“An individual resident won’t see any change outside of increased enforcement,” said Casey Earp, assistant to City Manager Deb Hinsvark.
In a report to the council, city staff notes that the plan to hand over management of the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter to the Routt County Humane Society will give the city’s animal control officers more time to help enforce trash rules.
The city originally was proposing to require all residents to use bear-proof trash cans outside, and the rules earned initial approval from six members of the council as well as some local trash haulers and residents.
Two weeks later, five council members changed their minds after hearing from several constituents who were opposed to the idea.
“I think that (initial) vote then raised a lot of public conversation about this,” council member Kenny Reisman said. “I’ve kind of gone the other way. I think we’re underestimating the cost to the consumer.”
Some residents didn’t think it was fair to be ordered to pay for a new trash container when they have been responsible and not caused any conflicts with bears.
Others supported the rules and thought they were needed to help keep bears out of trouble.
Even though the council hit reverse on the residential trash rules, it is poised on Tuesday night to give final approval to the new rules on commercial dumpsters in the city.
The rules aim to make the commercial dumpsters more wildlife resistant and will require some property owners to upgrade the lids on their dumpsters if bears are getting through them. Whoever owns the property where the dumpster resides will be responsible for making sure it is locked and secured.
City staff estimates some of the lids can be retrofitted into compliance for $18 to $25.
In addition, the city will upgrade more of its own trash containers in parks and public places to bear-proof models.
“People are realizing we need to do something, and it needs to come from the community,” Steamboat Police Capt. Jerry Stabile said. “Hopefully (these changes) have a positive impact.”
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