Brookings city officials have made it faster to prosecute people who use other people's trash cans or Dumpsters - or city receptacles - as their personal dump sites.
Effective Aug. 27, a new ordinance adopted by the Brookings City Council will take the 90-day nuisance abatement process out of the equation, making it easier to catch and prosecute violators.
"This is costly to everyone, and in the city's case, uses valuable staff time to keep litter containers available for legitimate purposes," said City Manager Gary Milliman. "Our staff has found household or business trash stuffed into litter containers, which results in increased trash disposal costs to the City and having to empty the litter containers more frequently."
It's not just city trash cans, either.
"We've also received complaints from owners or contractors of larger trash bins on private property that other people have deposited household or business waste into the bin without permission, resulting in overburdening the bin and costing more for the service," Milliman said.
City staff that empty the receptacles will be on the lookout for such things as personal mail to enforce the new regulations.
"We're not concerned about a few pieces of mail," Milliman said, "but when we find larger volumes of waste with mail or other identification material mixed in with it, we will take enforcement action."
Enforcing regulations that involve rented Dumpsters or personal household trash cans will be addressed when a complaint is filed.
The new ordinance also authorizes city staff to issue citations to people who scatter trash on public or private property. Citations would direct the offender to appear in court where the Municipal Court Judge could issue an immediate cleanup order. The judge can also levy fines and, in cases where the trash is scattered on private property, could require that the cost of cleanup be borne by the property owner.
The regulation was updated because, until now, the city had to go through a multi-step process under nuisance abatement proceedings - a process that could take up to 90 days.
Now, city staff can immediately cite people and send them to municipal court. If they're found guilty, the judge can levy fines and require the offender to clean up the property.
"Most people receiving an initial notice to remove trash or debris that is causing a safety hazard from their property act promptly to resolve the condition," Milliman said.