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Council wrestles over garbage cans & junk cars
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Trash cans inview are allowed if three on the council get their say.

In its quest to update the Ceres Municipal Code, the City Council on Monday evening further debate the issue of where waste cans may be stored on residential lots.

The current code calls for residents to place their garbage cans, dubbed “waste wheelers,” out of public view unless it’s during the time they are set on the street for collection. Recently the council gave direction in a 3-2 “vote” for city staff to change the code to allow residents to place them next the house and not necessarily out of public view.

With Mayor Chris Vierra absent at Monday’s meeting and knowing that Councilman Channce Condit opposes the change, Vice Mayor Linda Ryno seized the opportunity to see if either Councilman Bret Durossette or Mike Kline had a change of heart. She argued that relaxing the standards would lead to more blight in Ceres.

“I don’t believe they should be up against the house; I think they should still be out of sight,” said Ryno. “And I think by allowing them to stay out in public view I think we’re lowering what we expect of our citizens when somebody complain that Ceres is junky. We’re stepping back if we say well, let’s just let them leave it out, even if it is up against the house.”

Ryno said she didn’t understand why a person couldn’t walk a few steps to place the waste cans behind the fence or gate.

“If you take pride in your house – like I do – you’re going to place your waste-wheeler in the back. I don’t want to be that guy to completely come up with all these rules that everybody’s got to have. That’s not my job.”

Ryno disagreed, saying, “I do believe that’s our job.”

“Why shouldn’t we expect the community aesthetics to be such that we don’t have garbage cans in the front yard?” asked Ryno. “Because garbage doesn’t belong in the front yard.”

The two argued terms, with Durossette saying “side yard” is not the same as front yard.

Ryno disagreed that up against the house still allows the can to be visible.

The proposed change would ban citizens from placing the can in front of any part of the house or in the driveway.

Durossette said he has surveyed Ceres neighborhoods and noted that about half of residents put their cans out of view. Ryno faulted the lack of enforcement of the law.

City Manager Toby Wells chimed in that the code has been enforced.

“We’ve written hundreds and hundreds of citations,” said Wells. “We’ve sent out hundreds and hundreds of courtesy notices. It has been enforced. There have been significant efforts. Can there be more done? Of course but there’s other priorities of code enforcement as well. But it has been enforced and there still is a prevalent challenge within the community.”

Durossette suggested making the change and in six months or a year wait to “see how trashy it gets.”

Kline said he had not changed his mind. That left the council split at 2-2 so Ryno suggested the council await a full council to hammer out the issue in Title 6. She suggested her hopes that Vierra has changed his mind.

The council also wrestled with proposed changes in the code to combat abandoned vehicles being stored in driveways. 

Citizen John Warren took on the council’s previous direction to allow abandoned or non-operable cars in a driveway as long as they are covered with a well-maintained and well-fitting car cover. Warren suggested the city not allow any such vehicles.

The council also discussed proposed language that would significantly restrict repairs that may be done on automobiles in residential zones. The changes would force residents to work on cars within public view. Such work could be done behind a fence or inside of a closed garage, but not in the driveway or under an open carport.

Councilman Mike Kline protested proposed changes to forbid routine maintenance, such as oil changes or brake jobs in the driveway.

“I change all my oil in my cars and I do it in my driveway,” said Kline.

The council agreed to allow routine maintenance to still be allowed in a driveway.

Changes would also eliminate the ability of anyone to park their cars, boats or RVs on a front lawn.