On Tuesday, June 21, the Greensboro City Council voted unanimously to start charging residents $25 for not complying with the ordinance requiring them to remove their garbage and recycling containers from the street, apparently having little idea what that ordinance actually states.

It might seem to some that before the City Council implemented a new fee for the residents of Greensboro who are already suffering from record high inflation and gas prices, that at the very least the city councilmembers should have some knowledge of the ordinance.

City Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “It is critical that pick a time that you need to have your cans out by.”

She added, “A concrete time that your trash needs to be out by in the morning.”

However, that time is set by the ordinance that states, “In order to collect solid waste, the owner or occupant of each business, or household shall place all solid waste in approved containers and place such solid waste containers between the curb or traveled portion of the street and the property line closest to the curb of the premises from which the same is placed at or before 7:00 a.m., on the day fixed for collection.”

What the ordinance doesn’t state is that the cans cannot be on the street before 7 p.m. the day before the scheduled collection.  Other than stating that the cans cannot be on the street on Saturday or before dusk on Sunday, the ordinance is silent on when the cans may be placed on the street prior to collection.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I propose that we possibly consider taking away the 7-7-7.”

She added “People are getting hung up on the 7-7-7.  I’ve gotten a lot of emails and phone calls about this.”

But the “7-7-7 Rule” appears to be a marketing effort by the Field Operations Department.  The ordinance only has one 7 and that is that the cans have to be on the street by 7 a.m. the day of collection.  According to the ordinance that the City Council voted to enforce with a $25 fee, the cans can be on the street before 7 p.m. the night before collection and can remain on the street for 12 hours after collection.  If the city empties the cans at 3 p.m., that means in accordance with the ordinance the cans may remain on the street until 3 a.m.

The $25 fee for not complying with the ordinance went into effect on July 1, but Director of the Field Operations Department Julio Delgado decided not to enforce the new fee for 120 days.  The City Council never voted on the moratorium, but at the meeting the council appeared to agree with the proposed 120-day moratorium.