Dallas City Council Considers an End to Alley Trash Collection

City officials want most Dallas trash and recycling collection to be at the curb and not in alleys in the future

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Dallas officials are resurrecting talk of eliminating, or drastically reducing, trash collection in the city's alleys.

It is a topic that has surfaced many times over the years and been rejected.

City officials recommended the change again Monday.

“You’re changing the sanitation and you’re going to hear from people. It’s ‘don’t mess with my trash,’” city council member Jennifer Gates said.

City staff members argue that automated trucks operated by a single driver can hold more garbage than rear-loading trucks that also cost more to operate with two or three employees. But larger automated trucks have trouble getting through narrow alleys in many Dallas neighborhoods.

Longtime city council member Tennell Atkins has heard the push back from residents before.

“There is a big war that’s going to come down on the council members, and the community says, ‘I got the alley. I want my trash can picked up from the alley,’” Atkins said.

A new sanitation department leader, interim director Tim Oliver, said the city could save around $6 million a year by collecting trash with automated trucks at the curb in front of houses instead of from alleys. He said his staff spends about a quarter of their time dealing with trash collection problems in alleys. Oliver said only the largest alleys that are wide and well-paved should continue to be used by garbage and recycling trucks. His briefing Monday said 60% of the residential collection is done with rear loading trucks now.

“A lot of them like their alley pick up, but I think for the city, it’s a lot more efficient to have the bigger trucks out in front,” councilman David Blewett said.

Several council members were persuaded by Oliver’s presentation Monday. He said the change could occur over several years and not all at once.

“Our business models have been turned on our head for 2020 and we’ve got to be efficient, we’ve got to live in the 21st century,” council member Paula Blackmon said.

City officials want bulk trash collection changes, too. As of July 1, for the first time, Dallas residents are limited in how much bulk trash they can place at the curb for monthly collection. In the future, city staff wants bulk trash divided between yard waste and bulky furniture or appliance items for separate collections to promote recycling and drastically reduce waste heading to the city landfill.

The changes will all receive further discussion and public input before final decisions, but after Monday’s meeting, it appears Dallas will pursue changes that have been resisted for years.

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