Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Get Sued!

53-year-old Eddie House of San Carlos, California recycles, composts, and finds homes for his discarded items. He reduced his household waste to the point that he cancelled his garbage pickup service last year. His reward is a lawsuit from the city!
The lawsuit, filed by San Carlos Deputy City Attorney Linda Noeske in San Mateo Superior Court on Jan. 22, seeks a permanent injunction forcing House to maintain garbage service. City officials are also seeking to recoup from House the costs of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims House broke the city’s municipal code requiring all residential, commercial and industrial properties to contract with Allied Waste for pickup at least once a week — a standard requirement in most cities, San Carlos Deputy City Manager Brian Moura said.

Moura said the suit was the result of complaints from neighbors about House burning garbage. House says he only burns wood. -via Geek Like Me

(image credit: Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt/The Examiner)

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Yes, it was a trick by the evil city so that they could sue this man. I'm sure that as soon as the guy called to cancel his trash service, the city "bureaucrats" got dollar-signs in their eyes. That's totally how it works. It has nothing to do with maintaining an acceptable level of sanitation in the city at all. And I'm sure that the city's first response after realizing their mistake in letting a resident cancel their service was to take the man to court. No letters asking the man to correct the situation were issued, or code enforcement warning him that he was breaking city ordinance and him refusing to submit. The best thing about this plot is how the city employees will get rich off of filing an injunction to get the citizen to resume service and only collecting the money for the amount that the lawsuit cost.

I assure you that, by and large, cities do not try and game people into paying for services that are not genuinely in their collective best interest to have. If there is a contract with a private vendor, the city is going to pay the same amount to the vendor no matter if this guy is paying or not, so no, it is not in their best financial interest to have him getting service anyway. The money he pays for his bill goes to the trash collection company and not the city. The city's only interest is that the man is not burning burying, or other wise disposing of his garbage in an illegal or harmful way. He still produces some trash and therefore must have garbage service because the city cannot just take his work for it that he disposes of it ethically. Sorry to crush the conspiracy theories, people. Reality often has that effect.

To answer other comments:
No, he can’t counter sue for the city not having “adequate” recycling. That is not even the issue. He admits to producing some trash, however little, and you cannot recycle everything.
Yes they can sue him because he is breaking a city ordinance and refuses to comply.
No, he most likely does not have the option to roll his trash collection into property taxes. Counties as well as cities levy property taxes and they are both handled at that level of government. And the county does not need to be worrying about trash collection as well.
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If only one company is allowed, then the government should account for that in whatever taxes it gets.

OTOH, where I live... The city provides trash pickup. But not everyone uses it. My landlord contracts with a service that supplies the bins - and goes into the yard to get them, and then puts them back! Thank you! Next door has a similar deal with a different company. Across the street, the city pickup is used (so a variety of receptacles is used, as city does not provide them while requiring different bins for recycling - go figure). Three pickups a week can get noisy...
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This is old news, but anyway, why did he feel the need to cancel his garbage pickup? Couldn't he just... not leave any garbage to be picked up? Some weeks my mom doesn't feel the need to leave garbage out, so she doesn't, so they don't pick anything up. Voila.
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This makes me as mad as Counties charging for the reclamation and use of captured runoff rainwater. Someone said it earlier, "No good deed goes unpunished."
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If your are required to pay for trash pick up then it should be taken out of (or included in with) property taxes. You pay property tax and get "free" Trash pick up. Otherwise how can you legally make someone pay for a service that they don't necessarily need?
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