Dumpster Lids

One of our homeowners wrote the City of Sunnyvale a letter on March 3, 2003 complaining about the lids on our dumpsters. The City responded on March 7 and sent a copy to our property manager. The name of the homeowner is omitted here to protect privacy, but the content of the letter is provided below. (It was manually copied, so typos are possible.)

This information is provided in order to explain why the Board has not taken steps to remove the lids. Presentation of this information does not necessarily reflect the attitude of individual board members toward applicable Municipal Code.

The City is responsible for collecting garbage twice a week. Since the Municipal Code requires that the containers be emptied at least once every seven days (see below), please notify the City or our property manager if you notice that the garbage truck driver fails to empty all containers when he comes.

March 7, 2003

Name and address of homeowner omitted for sake of privacy

Subject: Dumpster Lids

Dear <homeowner>:

This is with regard to your March 3 letter about closing of lids on dumpsters. I am sorry to learn that Sunset Park residents are being inconvenienced. However, I am also pleased to hear that this provision of the Sunnyvale Municipal Code is being complied with, for the reasons discussed below.

The Municipal Code requires that containers holding garbage have lids and that those lids be maintained closed for these major reasons:

Public Health - Open storage of garbage provides areas where disease "vectors" such as flies, birds, rats and other animals can obtain the food they need to stay alive and reproduce. Interrupting what public health experts call the "fly cycle" is the reason why state law and the Municipal Code both require that solid waste containers be covered and emptied at least once every seven days.

Public Nuisance - Keeping the dumpster lids closed prevents light materials from being blown around the area on windy days. In warm weather, closed lids keep unpleasant odors inside the dumpster.

Operating Expenses - This is particularly an issue in the rainy season, when open lids allow water to pool inside the metal dumpsters, causing them to rust. This accelerates Specialty Solid Waste & Recycling's maintenance costs, which are ultimately passed along to customers in their refuse collection charges. Another cost avoided by the City if lids are kept closed is that of disposing of the water that is dumped with the garbage. At 15 inches of rain per year, a single open dumpster collects about 170 gallons of rain weighing 1,411 pounds, equivalent to disposal costs of about $53 per year. When multiplied by the 3,000 or so dumpsters in Sunnyvale, that equates to total rainwater disposal costs of $160,000 per year. Like the cost of maintenance, City costs to transport and dump rainwater at the landfill are passed along to customers in the form of higher rates.

Even with all these reasons why the dumpster lids are kept closed, I am concerned about the problems that your letter describes. It may require a combination of resident education and additional cleanup effort on the part of the Sunset Park management to ensure clean conditions in and around the dumpster enclosures. City staff would be happy to work with the management and/or the homeowners association on solutions.

Thank you for calling your concerns to my attention. If you have any other questions or suggestions, please feel free to call me at (408) 730-7421.

Very truly yours,

<Name omitted from this webpage>
Solid Waste Program Manager

Last modified: Thu Mar 27 22:46:45 Pacific Standard Time 2003