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Trash talking at the City Council: Proposals would limit hours, numbers of commercial trash haulers in Boston

Two city councilors are working on proposals that could prohibit 3 a.m. commercial trash pickups in neighborhoods like the North End and limit the number of companies allowed to pick up trash there at all.

At-large Councilor Felix Arroyo is leading an effort on a home-rule petition to let the city limit hours of trash pickup. Arroyo said that while most restaurant and other business owners in crowded neighborhoods such as the Back Bay and the Leather District try to work with their residential neighbors, there are cases where at "3 in the morning, there's a garbage truck picking up the trash in a place where families live and there's nothing we can do right now as a city to regulate that."

Most councilors last week signed onto the plan for a home-rule petition, which will have a public hearing before being voted on for submission to the legislature. City Councilor Sal LaMattina (North End, East Boston, Charlestown) said noise from early morning trash pickup is "a constant complaint" in the North End.

Arroyo said state representatives Marty Walz, D-Back Bay and Aaron Michlewitz, D-North End, are already working on legislation to let municipalities regulate trash-pickup hours.

Separately, Councilor Michael Ross (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway) is looking at the possibility of trash franchising for commercial trash pickup in the city. Under this proposal, the city would hire a single trash company to handle pickups in a specific neighborhood, similar to the way residential refuse is already handled. Ross said the idea would drive down pickup costs and would mean "more efficient and quieter operations," because only one truck would go down a street or alley at night, rather than "16 or 17."

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Comments

I got a great idea! Let's ban all commercial trash trucks from city streets!

That'll show em!

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Cyclists are in favor since then trucks wouldn't double-park in the street or in bike lanes.

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Put a large diesel engine running a huge compactor dumping bottles and cans in an enclosed space bordered by residential buildings at 3 am and even the most seasoned city sleeper will be woken up (basically the same reason college kids aren't allowed to throw loud parties at 4 am - but the city will enforce the noise ordinances against them - they won't touch the haulers even if they generate more decibels).

Then add in another guy that comes by at 4:30, another at 5:30 and another at 6:30. By that time you are fully awake and bleary eyed so you don't care what happens after that. And if you have guests not used to all that noise - you have some very irritable friends/family in the morning.

We're not being unreasonable here - the request as far as I know (the link didn't work) is no commercial trucks in the alleys from 11 pm until 7 am on weekdays and midnight to 8 am on weekends. We have a lot of shared space here and both the residents and the businesses have to coexist. If the residential trucks can come by in the middle of the day and make money hauling there should be no reason the commercial can't do the same.

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How people moving to the City of Boston, want it to be as quiet as South Hadley after 5:30pm.

Trash pickup and delivery is done in the night and very early A, so that the city can function as a city during the day. The more that gets done at night, the less double parking and crowding of the street with trucks during the day. and yes, that's better for cyclists too.

If you want to open your windows all night on that luxury apartment you over paid for, learn to live with the sounds of the city.

If you're a very light sleeper, why in the world would you live in a city in the first place?

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I don't think restricting loud trash trucks overnight is unreasonable. "Quiet as South Hadley" is a strawman; no one is arguing for that level of quiet in the North End.

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Like I've said. I've dealt with my fair share of unreasonable, childish neighbors.

Talking, not yelling mind you, past 9pm on my back porch was cause for them to come out and threaten to stand there until I went inside. When that didn't work, since I had no intention of going inside, they threatened to call the cops when I laughed in his face. It was the last straw, after trying to be cordial and an accommodating "good neighbor". This wasn't a party, or rough play, or hell, even raised voices. It was noise to the asshole who thinks it was his right to sleep in his back summer room, with all the windows wide open, in a city, and expected no noise.

There's quite a few of those people in this city, and they're the ones really pushing these things. Same kind of people that scream and yell when a new high density apartment tower want to go up, blocking their god given right to a 10 block unobstructed view.

There needs to be reasonable laws and limits on things to squelch problems. Forcing trash pickup during the day when you have both residents trying to get around, and commuters getting to work is just stupid. You live in a mix use residential neighborhood.

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then Boston must be "The City that Force Feeds Itself Ambien for Its Own Good, Damnit!".

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Who said anything about 5:30 - from 7 or 8 in the morning until 11 or midnight I don't really care what the hell they do back there.

About the only thing that wakes me up at night are these trucks (and the cat - but he's IN the apartment and won't shut up til I feed him)- fire engines, police, loud people meandering down the alley rarely if ever wake me up. The residential trash is picked up in the daytime and a fair amount of the commercial as well - but there are 3-4 haulers who insist on doing it at 4 am. The problem is mainly in the alleys - not on the streets - and cyclists rarely use the alleys. I would love to sleep many nights with the windows open, but I can't solely because of these trucks. I leave my windows closed and the storms. My neighbors installed special sound reducing windows on top of that - and even then they are awakened almost every night.

I GUARANTEE you would not sleep if one of these things came down the alley when you were sleeping - don't care what you say you can sleep through.

I repeat - this is a mixed use neighborhood meaning that it's commercial AND residential. We have as much right to quiet enjoyment of our property as somebody in West Roxbury - if it wouldn't be tolerated there (and this wouldn't be) it shouldn't be anywhere else. Always amazes me how people think that just because you live in the city that noise, trash strewn in your yard, rats etc. should be part of your life.

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It's mixed use city neighborhood.

Common sense would tell me that it's going to be a noisy neighborhood, and there's going to be early AM deliveries and overnight trash pickup. There's going to be noise at night as patrons visit the restaurants, bars, and cafes.

It's all part of what makes it a great place to live, for some people.

Don't move next to a college if you don't want to deal with college kids. Don't move into a mixed use city neighborhood if you don't expect noise from all sorts of things at all sorts of hours. It seems pretty simple to me.

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people, like this anon, can make such ignorant comments but I digress.

I do not live in city but in a suburb about 15 miles from the city. I am a light sleeper and am awoken by trash pick up across the street from me at 3:00am or 4:00am. Actually it is a trash truck picking up one of those dumpsters, banging it multiple times against the truck to dislodge the trash, and then slamming it back down on the pavement.

Some nights I am lucky and sleep through but alas not many.

Apparently, Anon, you have never had to live with the noise for if you did, you would be more understanding, but I digress again.

And, for the record, you do not have to have your windows open at night to hear the noise.

I, for one, would love my town to have an ordinance restricting this type of pickup to at least six or seven in the morning.

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I have one, I turn it on, and it drowns everything out.

It's what people used to do before they became such pretentious, self center pricks and decided they had to force their bad policy ideas on everyone else to justify.... something.

This is a bad move, and it'll only create worse moves down the road. You already can't get anything built in this city, you barely can open up a new business, and soon those businesses here won't be able to supply their shops, or empty their refuse... because it's unsightly, or noisy.

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I like the idea of neighborhood trash franchising. I have two businesses across the road from me that have pickups on different mornings, and it's not so much the actual trash pickup that's annoying as the 10 minutes of clanging and banging as they wrestle the dumpster out and back in. They're not supposed to do pickups in Cambridge before 7AM, but they always do it at 6:30.

On the other hand, Trash trucks are noxious and dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, and cause traffic delays for motorists, so having them work at night makes some sense.

Having the pickups consolidated and limited seems like it would make a lot of sense to reduce trips and the gas it costs to run the trucks all over the place.

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Does trash franchising work for commercial waste? Every example I've seen involves municipalities paying vendors to pick up from homes.

Who would organize franchising of commercial refuse pickup? Very few municipalities deal with commercial refuse, which is why there are private sanitation businesses in the first place.

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I don't know how much reduction in actual pick-ups you'd have here, though, since I suspect most of the businesses that have night pick-ups are restaurants and need daily (or nightly) pick-ups.

Which raises another point: if the pick-up hours are restricted, will restaurants leave their trash on the sidewalk from closing until after 7am, or will they be expected to send someone to put out trash in the morning? I don't love the idea of having that much trash out for that many additional hours, not with the pre-existing rat problem.

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Most of the restaurants have exterior dumpsters anyway - and they close at 1 am or so - so even if they put it out at night there are hours of feasting time for the rats. The dumpsters are supposed to close tightly - but walk down an alley and you'll see that they are often overloaded or even if the tops are closed any rat worth his salt along with about a dozen of his friends can come and go as they pleased. If you got rid of the illegal dumpsters you would eliminate 90% of the rat problem. They won't stay where they can't eat.

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I don't know about the legality of it, but if you walk down Salem, Hanover or Prince (and probably others) there are an awful lot of trash cans set out in front of restaurants by 11pm or so. I imagine a lot of those places simply don't have accessible space for dumpsters and that's why they have nightly pick-ups.

It would be great if they could mandate rodent-proof dumpsters for all businesses, but I just don't know if that's feasible for some of the places already in operation.

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Why would trash attract significantly more rats between restaurant closing and 7 AM than it would between closing at 3 AM?

The correct solution is a rat-proof dumpster. The extra 4 hours make no difference.

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The number of hours rodents have access to trash on the sidewalks was a big concern last fall when the neighborhood groups attempted to have the hours private residents could put trash out changed. I didn't really question their logic at the time, but it appears reasonable that if rats have access to trash for 8+ hours they're fatter and happier than if they have access for 4 hours or so.

And I agree the best solution would be a rat-proof dumpster but from my casual observation it appears that a lot of restaurants don't have an accessible space for this and so rely on trash cans and nightly pick-ups.

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I bet that in 100 years we are going to look back and laugh at metal dumpsters, huge dumptrucks, and trash removal at 6am.

It is always easier for garbagemen to work at night. No traffic, the alleys aren't blocked, they can double park, etc etc. But these things do make horrible noises and simply shouldn't operate before 7am

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How about businesses compost and recycle everything that can be, and then they won't be generating enough trash to necessitate dumpsters and huge trucks?

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Large trucks coming by, at least for me.

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Good try, Arroyo. I like how you tried to mask "limit the number of contractors" (read: protect his cronies?) with "limit the hours for the good of the neighbors."

He's no dummy, I'll give him that. Unfortunately for him, neither am I. Typical Democrat douchebag, trying to limit the free market. Go ahead, Boston. Elect him again, you geeks. Don't cry to me when he gets his way and your cost for garbage collection goes up because only a handful of companies are allowed to do the job.

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Arroyo (and Ross) want to limit the hours for trash pickup, but it was Ross who talked about "trash franchising" at a council meeting last week.

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Well, we already know how much he sucks. Let's vote for him again anyway!

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Mike knows I rarely give him a break on anything - but not sure what the other option is. Part of the problem is that everyone contracts independently with a trash hauler (not sure what the economics are behind this - sounds a bit illogical). However, that means you might have half a dozen different companies picking up a couple of dumpsters on each block so the "franchising" idea is kind of like democracy - it's the worst solution except for all the others.

As for voting for/against him - any options? Short of a last minute sticker campaign he's running unopposed.

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Typical Democrat politician douchebag

Whats Democratic or even liberal about this?

This same sort of BS happens in Red towns as much as it does in Blue ones. It's bad policy, worthless pandering and cronie back patting; but it isn't limited to one party.

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He doesn't believe in free trade, he wants to use his magic lawmaking wand to artificially limit competition.

The difference between bad Democrats and bad Republicans is that bad Democrats oppose things for the purposes of making money for their cronies. Bad Republicans oppose things for the purposes of appeasing God.

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Gov Walkers top aid took immunity because they were appeasing God?

This type of local politics isn't privy to ideology. It's human nature, which is why more transparency and better ethics rules / oversight is needed.

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Honestly, I'm just bored, so now I'm just saying goofy (expletive.)

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