- A new proposal from Kern County Public Works will mandate trash pickup in Census Tract 52.05.
- Residents are organizing a protest to prevent the increase in taxes.
- Next Public Information Session is December 5.
“I believe that the people of the KRV have a right to deliver their own trash to the county for free if they so choose,” Scott Toland, a resident of Lake Isabella who has been collecting signatures for a protest, told me.
Earlier this year, Kern County Public Works proposed several universal collection areas for the communities in the Kern River Valley that would add a tax to property owners to cover the cost of a three cart pickup system.
“As it is now, you can hire commercial trash collection if you want for 30 dollars a month. With this proposal that choice will be taken away and it will go up to 50 dollars a month and it’d be mandatory,” Toland said.
Those in the universal collection zones would be subject to pay for mandatory trash collection by a franchise hauler, at a cost of 559 dollars annually that would be added to their property taxes.
After broad opposition from communities in the Kern River Valley, Kern County Public Works dropped all the proposed Universal Collection sites in the Valley – except for one area – census tract 52.05, which incorporates parts of Lake Isabella and Bodfish.
Lisa Shreder, Assistant Director from Kern County Public works explained that this was because this area had met a certain population density threshold that was above seventy-five people per square mile. Senate Bill 1383 says areas that are less dense do not need to comply with the law.
The Board of Supervisors then approved this updated plan in May – but changes have yet to go into effect, Shreder says public works plans to implement this plan in March of 2024.
Kern County Public Works says that this collection would be to comply with state law SB 1383, which aims to reduce methane emissions by reducing organic waste disposal.
“We read the bill and found out that it was wrong. Complying with 1383 does not require universal collection areas,” Toland said.
Lisa Shreder, Assistant Director of Solid Waste says the law does not require universal collection areas but tells me it is how Kern County has chosen to comply with the law.
“Cal-Recycle laid out several methods to comply with the law,” Shredder said, “Our choice was to use a three cart collection system to apply with the law,” adding that this was a model already in place in other areas throughout Kern County.
Shreder said that other methods of complying would be cost-prohibitive.
“Those other choices required a high-yield diversion facility that we do not have in this county,” Shreder said.
Toland says one of the primary reasons he opposes the law is because he says it could hurt residents that don’t have a lot of disposable income.
According to the 2021 Census, 39.4 percent of those in census tract 52.05 are below the poverty line. The tax would be mandatory for all property owners regardless of income.
Shreder says they could potentially get fined by that state for not complying.
“We could be fined by the state. There is no guarantee that the state will fine us but we are under a corrective action plan that says we will comply with the law and we said we are going to use a three cart system to comply with the law,” Shreder said.
Toland and other residents of the valley are collecting signatures for a protest; if more than half of the property owners in the affected area sign it, public works will not be able to implement the change. He and others that opposed the change plan to collect signatures outside of the Vons in Lake Isabella every weekend until December 5th.
Toland hopes to collect those signatures before December 5 which is when the next public information session regarding the universal collection areas.
If successful, Shredder says public works currently does not have a backup plan.
“We believe out here that one size does not fit all,” Toland said.
For more information on the protest you can head to krvtrash.org