In his report, the City Manager claims that the streets are being cleaned more effectively. He reports that the sweeper used to collect 1.5 cubic yards of trash per week and that has increased to about 2 cubic yards. Exactly how much is "about 2 cubic yards"? If you know anything about significant figures, then you would know that 1.5 is already "about" 2, so the reported number is meaningless without any decimal point figures. Until the City Council sees the actual data for themselves, the numbers presented in the staff report can't be trusted. Furthermore, Brea residents should be outraged that the city is sweeping EVERY street EVERY week to collect just a few trash cans worth of debris! Most of our neighboring cities sweep only twice per month, so how can the City justify sweeping at double that rate (and, as the City Manager pointed out in his July 2009 report, at twice the rate required by the NPDES)? Parking issues aside, the data doesn't support the frequency of our current program and this frequency should be examined by the City Council as a way to not only cut costs but significantly reduce Brea's carbon footprint.
Although I'm guessing that even these meager numbers are exaggerated, let's assume that there WAS an increase of one-half of a cubic yard collected each week as a result of the new parking rules. How much debris does that represent? Less than 8 gallons of debris for each square mile of Brea. The sweeper would have drive back and forth for FOUR hours over 24 miles of curbs in order to collect THIS half of a trash bag full of leaves. Is that worth the massive burden that has been placed on the residents of Brea? Is that worth evicting Brea residents out of their neighborhoods every week? Is that worth the hardship those of us with short driveways will experience when we are unable to sell our homes? I don't think so.
Still, shouldn't we be thrilled that we are collecting a whopping 26 cubic yards of additional debris each year? Isn't that proof that we should continue the enforcement program, as the City Manager has claimed tonight? That conclusion is seriously flawed for two reasons. First, I'd like to know how much additional debris was collected when the City implemented a VOLUNTARY parking restriction on street sweeping days? Of course we don't have that data because the City Council majority voted down such a program. We went from no parking restrictions to total restrictions with ticketing, so to assume that this is the only way to achieve clean streets is ludicrous. We all know that Fullerton and Yorba Linda don't ticket on street sweeping days and I think their streets look pretty clean! Of course, they are also in full compliance with the NPDES.
The second reason that Brea isn't up for any "Green City of the Year Award" as a result of this program is that the COST to collect those 26 cubic yards of debris is mind-blowing. This enforcement program requires TWO city vehicles following the two street sweepers as they cover 300 miles of curbs in Brea each and every week. These enforcement vehicles (a Ford Ranger and a Crown Victoria) are driving for a combined TWELVE hours each day, four days a week. This comes to approximately 2,400 hours of driving per year, covering 15,000 miles annually. Even with the most conservative estimate, this will generate about NINE METRIC TONS of carbon dioxide each year. Twenty thousand pounds of CO2 are being produced in order to possibly collect an extra 26 cubic yards of LEAVES. Talk about significant figures! By having enforcement vehicles following the street sweepers, the City of Brea generates 6,543 cubic yards of carbon dioxide per year (refer to graph B)! Shocking, but this is still underestimating the damage. Keep in mind that this calculation doesn't include any pollution other than CO2, and doesn't take into consideration the thousands of additional hours of WASTED driving by Brea residents who are forced to hover around each week when the street sweeper comes by in order to comply with the "spirit of the law." Do you think the EPA would give its seal of approval to this trade-off? Just in the first six months of this ticketing program, the City of Brea has generated an extra five TONS of pollution. I don't understand how this policy can be endorsed by a City Council majority that just committed tens of millions of dollars to make Brea a "greener" city.
The data presented tonight proves what a waste this parking enforcement program is. It collects an insignificant amount of debris, generates an insignificant amount of revenue, is a massive burden to Brea residents and has a drastic effect on the City's carbon footprint. This data is eye-opening and demands action from the City Council. If the City Council majority still refuses to do anything about these problems, then we will have to start collecting signatures so the Brea residents will finally be able to have their opinions heard when they vote on this matter in November. Thank you.
For calculation of carbon dioxide emissions, please see the following websites:
Could the vagueness of this number be an intentional misrepresentation of the data in an effort to mislead the Council? This certainly is a possibility, considering the staff's prior history on data handling (refer to graph A). How many CUBIC YARDS of this greenhouse gas are generated in order to collect 26 cubic yards of debris?
here to download pdf of this presentation]