The Sacramento City Council approved sweeping changes Tuesday night in the way lawn waste and recycling material are collected in the city.
By a unanimous vote, the council agreed to require green waste bins for all residents and scale back weekly collection of recyclables to every other week. The changes will go into effect July 1.
The city is the only jurisdiction in Sacramento County that collects recycling every week. Steve Harriman, the city's integrated waste general manager, said the change would save the city $1 million a year.
Solid waste rates will not decrease as a result of the recycling changes. But Harriman said rates which have not increased since 2010 would remain stable through June 2015. And extra recycling bins will cost $1.76 a month, down from $5.13 a month.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said she was "skeptical of the biweekly recycling" and asked for an update from city staff once the change is made.
"We might need to revisit that," she said.
The green waste changes follow the approval by city voters of Measure T, which passed 51 percent to 49 percent in November. Measure T's passage allowed the council to repeal 1977's Measure A, which prohibited the city from requiring green waste bins.
With Measure T's approval, the city will scale back the regular leaf collection service by "the Claw" that quirky yellow contraption that became something of an icon in recent years as it traveled city streets scooping up piles of leaves.
The Claw will be used for regular green waste collection only in the leafiest months November, December and January.
Harriman said the narrow margin of victory of Measure T was a bit "counterintuitive," given that just 10 percent of city residents still rely on the Claw for weekly lawn waste collection.
"We heard from people who were strongly in favor and strongly opposed, both of whom were confident they would prevail by a big margin," Harriman said.
Those who do rely upon the Claw will see their green waste rates decrease by $3.36 a month when they transition to bins.
If they want a second bin to hold lawn trimmings, that container will cost $3.34.
The Claw won't be disappearing. In addition to leaf collection during some fall and winter months, the machine will also be used for appointment-based collection of bulky items.
That program had been used for the city for years but was cut as a result of budget reductions.
Harriman said the city would embark upon a public awareness campaign to inform residents of the changes, including sending notices to ratepayers.
"In some ways, this is probably the biggest changes we've had in 30 years," he said. "Once we get through the transition, I think we'll be fine."