Thursday, July 14, 2016

If Enforced, City Waste Container Placement Laws Gobble Up Parking Spaces & Disrupt Parking (253)

Image 1
The City has recently increased the number of waste containers in its collection system by a whopping one-third. On the face of it, this is a major expansion of problematic objects in public places. But, oddly, hardly anyone seems concerned about this mass invasion of obese barrels.

It has made me wonder, however: exactly how are we supposed to configure these new thousands of fat rolling vats when we rumble them out every week?

Seeing hardly anything on this aspect in the color picture brochures focused on “organics,” I have sought the guidance of the Davis Municipal Code. As seen in Image 1, we find that one is supposed to keep a minimum of three feet from each side of each container and to place the wheels of each against the curb.
Image 2

The Individual Configuration Level
This required configuration is displayed in Image 2, where the standard three containers have their wheels against the curb and there is three feet from each end of the line of containers, as required, and three feet between each container.

This arrangement consumes a total of 12 feet between and next to the containers. The three containers themselves consume almost 7 feet. Therefore, we are looking at a City-required line of containers that is almost 19 feet long.

Here is a small kicker: The line at which we are looking in Image 2 is in an Old North “N” district parking place that measures 18 feet. The physical fact of the matter is, therefore, that one cannot legally configure one’s containers without also violating N district parking markers by about one foot.

That little oddity aside, the major fantasy embodied in the law is the idea that people are going to configure their containers at the curb in this fashion anyway (especially all those people who do not have ordinary curbs in the first place). Perhaps it is no accident that this configuration law is hardly at all mentioned in the City organics campaign literature.

The Collective Configuration Level
Let us apply these configuration rules at the next larger level. What happens if everyone tries to obey these laws?

Continuing with the setting shown in Image 2, there are 18 waste-serviced addresses and 32 parking places on the face block shown in Image 2. Therefore, legal configuration of containers on that face block requires prohibiting parking in 56% of the total spaces.  

No matter how one splits the containers between the 17 “N” and the 15 “open” parking spaces, this remains a major disruption of parking for residents and for employees and student commuters who covet these spaces every weekday.

Rational Massive Ignorance and Ignoring
But we are of course saved from these dire consequences because hardly anyone knows these laws and would, of necessity, ignore them even if they were known and enforced. The practical fact is that people shoehorn their containers where they must.

I suppose one lesson here might be that City bureaucrats and the obtuse-elected can promulgate whatever rules they like, but “street level” common sense will likely prevail.

Nonetheless, I think this kind of ill-considered planning and law-making undermines the credibility and legitimacy of government. If people with government power do not exercise it with even basic common sense, they have to expect--at the very least-- mocking sarcasm, disrespect, and skepticism about their efforts.