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In short – winter weather. We use the same dump trucks for snowplowing and salting as we do leaf collection, so we need those trucks ready to go out on the road. It takes a full week to pull off all the leaf collection equipment and add on plow blades, salt, etc. In six of the last eight years, our first major snowfall or ice event, which required all plow trucks to treat streets and make them safe for drivers and police and fire vehicles, took place the first week in December or sooner.
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Although we continually run the street sweeper as well as have three scheduled pickups during the 6-week leaf pickup program, we cannot be everywhere at the same time. Any weather event could cause the leaves in the street to clog the storm sewers causing flooding and other issues. Residents should rake their leaves out to the front grassy parkway, in a long narrow row instead of one large pile, by 6 a.m. Monday of their scheduled leaf pickup.
Most leaves, regardless of the type of tree, fall by the end of November. Starting the program in mid-October helps us run curbside collection three times, while also making sure we have equipment prep time for snowplowing operations prior to December.
During winter weather, roads must be treated immediately to ensure the safety of drivers – be them our first responders making their way to calls or the general public. Because we use the same trucks for snow removal and de-icing as we do leaf collection, it’s not safe or practical to have anything less than our full fleet ready for winter operations.
If the City ran dual fleets, we would need at least $1.5 million in equipment up front and $100,000 annually to fund additional personnel, maintenance and overhead. That is a significant additional cost to our community.
No. Curbside leaf collection is one of several; options for leaf disposal each year, and each option compliments the others. We also offer a free bagged leaf program, which runs the entire month of December, and you can also mulch or compost your leaves, which is healthiest for your yard and the environment. No one option is intended to pick up all the leaves that fall; instead, it’s the combination of options that clears the most leaves.
Leaves have several healthy uses in the yard, such as serving as mulch or a covering for vegetable gardens and providing nutrients for trees. They also can help to improve soil quality. Composting or mulching your leaves on your property also decreases the volume of leaves that must be transported for disposal. Fewer leaves to haul means cleaner waterways and storm drains, as well as fewer collection trucks on the road, which helps lower emissions.
We do! Each year, Public Works considers the age of our trees, previous spring/summer drought conditions, and fall weather patterns and outlooks to create the most effective collection route for the specific leaf season. Also, staff continues to look at predicted weather and how many leaves have fallen throughout the program to determine if additional services can be performed beyond the scheduled three pickups prior to Thanksgiving. All these decisions are variable, weather-dependent and cannot be guaranteed up front. As a result, the City encourages residents to use all of the available options to dispose of the leaves on their property.