- Los Angeles city officials are considering suspending trash pickup to mitigate the effects of El Niño in parts of the city expected to be hit the hardest in January or February. Officials said decisions to halt pickup would be made no sooner than 72 hours before a major storm and possibly not until the storm hit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- This change in collection protocol was prompted to prevent curbside trash containers from blocking storm drains — and to stop rushing water from knocking bins over, sweeping them off to other locations where they also block water flow and amplify flooding, as similar events happened in Boyle Heights last October.
- The city would get the word out about scheduling changes via voice, text and e-mail messages to residents and businesses during emergencies and by leveraging the media.
While suspending trash pickup would reduce the debris on the streets, and possibly lessen flooding, this plan is new to the city, and it is yet to be seen whether it will cause challenges of its own. However, the city is working on plans to mitigate some foreseeable problems. This would not be the first time a government has suspended curbside collections due to storms to prevent problems like potential clogging.
"It doesn't matter how clean the catch basin is if something is going to float down and block that storm drain," said Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Boyle Heights.
But Rick Coca, a spokesman for Huizar's office, has concerns. "Unless you have a foolproof outreach plan in effect and are able to implement it on a moment's notice, you probably aren't going to get the desired effect," he said.
Kate Hutton, a spokeswoman with the city's Emergency Management Department, acknowledged that "how we communicate to the public" remains a "big concern."
She is hoping that encouraging residents and businesses to sign up for the NotifyLA system for notifications and instructions will help. And she added that when pickup is paused on holidays "it just gets absorbed into the schedule…Other cities suspend trash service for snow and weather all the time."