Libertarians, go home: San Franciscans will be required to compost and recycle, and most San Franciscans like it, thank you very much.
Opponents to the laws (PDF) marching through City Hall that would make both composting and recycling city law — and would make dumping food scraps in the black bin and paper in the green bin punishable by $100 fines — are few and far between. Indeed, if public testimony Thursday at the Board of Supervisors is any indication, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s stated goal of 75 percent recycling citywide by 2010 has nearly universal support.
But not from landlords.
The laws would make recycling mandatory “in the same way [putting] trash [in bins provided by the city] has been mandatory since 1932,” said Jared Blumenfeld, director of the city’s Department of the Environment (and also acting director of the Recreation and Park Department). San Francisco currently recycles 72 percent of its waste, but there is no way to hit 75 percent by next year “without mandatory composting and recycling.”
Janitors are on board. Through translators provided by SEIU Local 87, a parade of Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking waste disposal workers testified that the law would make their workloads easier: if FiDi office workers sort their own darn trash rather than having janitors pick through waste bins separating the remains of your lunchtime burrito from yesterday’s newspaper and today’s packing peanuts, there will be fewer worker injuries and, generally, happier San Franciscans.
Unless those San Franciscans own rental property.
Penalties levied upon recycling scofflaws – which could begin with nice letters written by an $167-and-hour DPH inspector, evolve into $100 fines and finish with property liens- would be imposed on landlords, not rental property tenants, even if it is the tenants who – silly tenants! – put tin cans in the black bin, banana peels in the blue bin and whatever else in the green bin. Like, plastic bags, or something.
Among the recycling laws’ “unintended consequences” would include “evictions” of tenants who refuse to decline to comply, according to local property owner Bart Murphy, whose family owns 15 buildings around the city, ranging in size from six units to 50.
(Landlords who don’t like it could in theory move to a community in future Eastern California — perhaps Vacaville, where the city’s 400 tons of daily compostable material are trucked — where plastic bags are king, composting is a myth, and tin cans, refried beans and mass-market paperbacks live together in the same waste bin in peace.)
But first comes an education campaign: billboards, e-mails, mailings and a door-to-door campaign to educating confused throwers-away on where to put what. You have until July 1, 2011, to live an “eco-police”-free life. Or sell your properties off, landlords. Might be easier that way.