PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The “Trash Queen of the Pearl” said sanitation has gotten so bad in Portland that city commissioners need to rethink the contract with their waste haulers.
Sally Mize is part of a volunteer team that regularly cleans up litter in the Pearl District and beyond. She said she also coordinates with the Burea of Planning and Sustainability to try and make sure the garbage cans get emptied.
On Thursday, Mize told Commissioner Carmen Rubio that garbage placed beside waste bins by the homeless and others is going uncollected — and it’s creating a hazard. The uncollected garbage is being scattered by rats, cars and even people that might be looking through the uncollected trash.
“We have been in a crisis for 9 months,” Mize said.
Mize said she sees more and more trash pile up both inside and outside the cans with the homeless adding to the mix. Unfortunately, she said, garbage stacked outside the bins is not being collected.
“I’m the person coordinating with the Trash Bureau, part of your BPS, to keep our neighborhood cans — that we raised money to buy — and got a deal with the city to have them emptied on a regular basis,” she told Rubio.
Those who leave their trash outside the bins “do not know that those trash bags are not going to be picked up when the cans are emptied. It’s not part of the hauler’s contract,” she said.
Mize said it is a growing problem.
“It creates terrible hazards on the streets. The rats go into the bags that are there. They go into the overflow that’s there. It flows into the streets. The cars run over the bags.”
Rubio, who oversees BPS, said this is something they’re also concerned about.
“BPS is definitely aware of this issue,” Rubio said. “I believe that they have, repeatedly tried to, attempted to address this issue with the contractor.”
The commissioner said it’s something that may need to be put in writing in the next contract.
“What I have been told is we are definitely writing the draft of the next contract that is set to start at the next fiscal year,” Rubio said. “This is definitely gong to be, we are going to work in some of the things that you mentioned.”
Mize agrees better collection is neeeded. She added someone also needs to clean the backs and insides of the cans as well.
“We are not going to be, our volunteers, your sanitation department,” she told Rubio.
Rubio said the city has recently put significant funds toward trash cleanup and pickup in the Budget Monitoring Process and said she hopes neighborhoods will soon see the impact of that action.