Peninsula garbage, street cleaning swept up in schedule mess

Scheduling conflicts between the Peninsula’s new garbage service provider and street sweepers in at least five cities has created a bit of a messy situation.

In East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Foster City and Belmont, residents have complained that the truck routes of San Francisco-based Recology are overlapping with city street sweeping days, preventing their roads from getting a sufficient scrub.

Recology uses automated trucks that require garbage, recycling and compost bins to be placed in the gutter with their wheels against the curb.

If a neighborhood’s street cleaning happens to fall on the same day, the street sweeper has to go around the bins in the street and can’t clean the roadway as thoroughly as it should.

In Redwood City, which has heard complaints from residents in recent weeks, Department of Public Works officials are still trying to identify the extent of the conflicts with the city’s monthly street sweeping schedule, city spokesman Malcolm Smith said.

Smith said it likely will be several months before the issue is resolved.

“They’re working on trying to come up with some alternate schedules, but it does take a little while because it’s a complex issue,” Smith said.

A spokeswoman for Recology — which took over service Jan. 1 for 92,000 homes and 10,000 businesses between East Palo Alto and Burlingame — said the company is working individually with cities where issues have surfaced to “coordinate the services as best we can.”

“Whether that means we change our routes or they change their street sweeping schedules or maybe a little bit of both, it really depends on each individual situation,” company spokeswoman Gina Simi said.

She said Recology tried to design its routes to be as efficient as possible. Street sweeping schedules are highly variable between cities, she said, so it “wasn’t feasible to take every single schedule into account” in such a large service area.

Still, “I think in hindsight, a little closer coordination would have been in order,” Smith said.

To resolve the conflict in Belmont, DPW officials last week announced a switch in the bi-weekly sweeping schedule. Those who had sweeping Tuesday will get the service Wednesday, effective March 1. Residents who had sweeping on Wednesday will get it Tuesday.

The street sweeper snafu isn’t the only snag the new garbage provider has faced. Recology fielded thousands of complaints of missed pickups in its first week on the Peninsula, though Simi said service is now running smoothly.

“We obviously want to provide the best, most efficient services to our customers with as little disruption to their schedules as possible,” Simi said.

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