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Garbage cans out of sight no more?
• Council talking about doing away with can storage restrictions
trash cans in Ceres
Storing garbage cans in plain sight is against local code because it’s an unsightly practice – such as here on Lawrence Street. But some members of the Ceres City Council appear to be okay with backing off now. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Unsightly garbage cans are routinely left in plain view of the public seven days a week despite the Ceres Municipal Code forbidding the practice. But as members of the Ceres City Council on Monday continued its task of updating the city’s code book, two members signaled they want to do away with the restrictions.

Mayor Chris Vierra was absent during Monday’s meeting, which left two members split over the topic. Vice Mayor Linda Ryno and Councilman Channce Condit took the position that residents should roll their cans behind a side yard fence or hidden elsewhere on the property while Councilmen Bret Durossette and Mike Kline are open to relaxing standards.

City Manager Toby Wells said code section 6.04.030 (c) is one of the most violated in Ceres. The city isn’t proactive about cracking down on those who don’t roll their cans out of view after the garbage trucks empty them. Generally the process is complaint driven, which prompts code enforcement officers to blanket the entire neighborhood with flyers to educate everyone on the block about the obscure law. If violations continue, it generally takes two more notices before a citation is issued.

“It is a significant code enforcement challenge,” admitted Wells.

Most cities either have the same restrictive policy as Ceres or no prohibition on where cans may be stored six days a week, he said.

Durossette said the large plastic wastewheelers can be viewed as an eyesore but he said “as a council person I hate to go tell somebody what they can do and what they can’t do.” He admitted being “caught” storing his cans in public view like was occurring in his neighborhood. “I just don’t want to be real intrusive in regards to what the punishment would be. Our Code Enforcement is always busy as it is.” He later claimed to be “wishy-washy” on the topic.

He viewed the $100 fines as being hard on residents. Wells said the council has the option of making the fine structure less punitive.

Ryno, long an advocate of Ceres cleaning up its appearance, took an opposite view. She said the council hired an additional code enforcement officer to deal with eyesores such as garbage cans left out for all to see.

“You may not feel it’s an issue if everyone on your court has their garbage cans out,” Ryno told Durossette, “but what about the person who … has worked really hard to purchase their home and keep their home in pristine condition, why should they have to look at someone’s garbage cans out in front of their house?” She added that she doesn’t understand why it’s a problem for anyone to hide their cans on days when garbage isn’t being collected. Ryno also commented that the violations are flagrant in Ceres because the city hasn’t been educating or enforcing it.

“How many times do we hear people complain about how the city looks?” asked Ryno. “So we’re just going to continue to let it go down? I personally don’t want to drive around and see garbage cans in the front yard. They don’t belong there.”

She cited one Ceres couple who are in their 90’s who put their cans away because “that’s the rule and they take pride in their home.”

Kline sided with Durossette.

“As long as their garbage can is up against their house, whether it’s the side of the garage and trash is not overflowing, I don’t have an issue with it,” said Kline. He said some side yards are so narrow that wastewheelers don’t allow passage.

Condit opposed relaxing the standards but he wants all to be treated equally.

“I would like us to be a little bit more proactive than reactive,” said Condit.

Ceres resident John Warren said he almost always complies with the code and said the city needs to work to change people’s habits.

“Retraining a community that’s gone along in the way ours has over the years is important,” said Warren.

Shirley Rogers expressed dismay at the existing restriction.

Durossette suggested the matter be tabled for a full council to review. But after the lengthy discussion, the council left the code section in place but left the door open to a change later when all five members can weigh in.

In other code revamping, the council decided against delineating a cap on mice, squirrel and bird breeding in lieu of the county ordinance taking affect.

Ceres resident Dave Stiles asked the council to look into a citywide ban on pit bulls. Durossette and Kline were against the council scheduling a future discussing a ban while Condit and Ryno favored a discussion.