City Codes Prohibit Mulching and Composting

Current city codes prohibit depositing grass clippings back onto our lawns, or adding any organic material. Mulching lawnmowers cutting the grass without a catcher, landscapers applying mulch, and gardeners applying compost are all breaking the law and could be subject to a $2,000 fine, EVERY DAY until the material is removed and taken to the landfill.

If you want to help change this join us at Council Council Chambers tomorrow evening, Tuesday, June 14th, at 6 pm. That’s on the corner of Seventh and Main Streets.

The mulching and composting prohibitons come from our city’s current Code of Ordinances, Sections 13.12.030 and 13.12.060. It’s a careless piece of legal drafting that just came to light because it’s about to be amended – but NOT in order to make things better.

Tomorrow’s city council meeting will conduct the second reading of proposed amendments to these sections in order to clamp down on people leaving trash at the curbside for too long, dumping waste on empty lots, and such. You may have read about this in the weekend Sun.

But although citizen input has been presented to city staff about this prohibition on mulching and composting, it’s been ignored. So now it falls to Council to make this right.

This is not a storm in a teacup, it’s a very badly written law that is about to get worse. The proposed amendments will place absentee owners in some jeopardy from vandalism beyond their control. Penalties and liabilities are being tightened. Organic refuse can be subject to a fine of $2,000 per day. Rocks and minerals after 7 days can be deemed organic refuse.

You get the drift? The law stinks – this law should be fined $2,000 per day, not us.

And it will only take a few paragraphs of common sense to sweeten this law and make it useful to the community. Along with a few other standard provisos, we simply need to exclude intential soil enriching and amending from the category of trash dumping.

Ironically, tomorrow evening marks councilwoman Rachael Jonrowe’s introduction of a conversation about urban farming. She wants to make sure there are no roadblocks in the way of homeowners trying to garden organically, and trying to keep their soil nutrients in their soil, instead of being sent to the landfill.

Tomorrow’s agenda is at the city website here:
Rachel’s on at Item P and we follow shortly after at Item S.

You can find the proposed amendments and the existing language from the link at Item S, or below:

ORDINANCE – Garbage Collection Amendment


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