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Does it make sense that Toters can only legally come out after the sun goes down?

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POSTED July 3, 2013 11:33 p.m.

Sunset tonight is 8:31 p.m.

If this is your collection day for City of Manteca refuse service then your Toters legally can’t be placed curbside until then. And once they’re emptied you are required to take them off the street and put them away from public view during the same day the collection takes place.

Bruce Lownsbery is well aware of this requirement. That’s because he was paid a visit by the Manteca Toter cops when someone complained that he had his Toters on curbside before sundown on the day prior to his collection day.

Lownsbery understands the reason for the ordinance. But he believes it is a tad excessive. A lot of people go to work early and are in bed before the sun goes down. To try and take the garbage out when you’re hustling to get out the door to work isn’t exactly a great thing.

The Manteca City Council should do one of two things: Either take Lownsbery up on his suggestion and chance the rule to no earlier than 5 p.m. the day before collection day or enforce the rule citywide and not just on a complaint basis.

Rest assured Lownsbury is not the only Manteca resident who puts his Toters curbside before sundown in violation of the city ordinance. (Actually his wife takes out the trash.) But most of them escape a visit from the Toter cops in  the form of code enforcement officers because they don’t have neighbors who want the rules enforced.

From their perspective looking at Toters from your front window for more than one day is not exactly the type of ambiance you want in a neighborhood.

The city certainly doesn’t want a resumption of the Toter Wars of the late 1990s.

One of the combatants was irked the city seemed reluctant to do anything about a neighbor who kept their Toters in front of their garage in plain sight of the street seven days a week. The neighbor violating the city ordinance ultimately got enough citations that she had to appear in court.

She argued before the judge that she was a single mom and therefore it was easier for her to leave her Toters in her driveway. The judge didn’t buy the argument or her suggestion that if her neighbor who didn’t commute to the Bay Area was so disturbed by the Toters why didn’t he take it upon himself to place them out of view for her.

She was fined and ordered to comply with city rules. Placement of Toters is clearly a property maintenance requirement that the city can regulate. It has as much to do with aesthetics as it does health and safety issues. Toters can get knocked over in winds and can get toppled by scavengers who often strew trash.

As a sidebar, it is illegal for people to rifle through recycling Toters for redeemable containers. Once the items are placed in the Toter they belong to the city. The city uses proceeds to help keep the cost of garbage collection down.

Neighborhood Toter hostilities flared up off and on for years. People were angry about targeted enforcement. After they were cited they’d drive around for several blocks and find others also guilty but who weren’t cited. The city tried acting on complaints by citing the responsible party and then issuing citations for a several block radius of others guilty of the same infraction but who did not generate a complaint call to the city.

That irked those people who drove around town and found additional examples of violators who weren’t cited.

Finally then Councilman Jack Snyder and co-founder of the Seniors Helping  Area Residents and Police, had the idea  to harness the volunteer force to blanket the city to issue warnings to people who were in violation and leaving them a copy of the city rules.

Compliance shot up almost overnight.

The city needs to either tweak the ordinance in the manner Lownsbery suggested or else enforce the rule on everyone.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.


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