25 November 2008

Common Sense Leaves

This weekend my friends helped me rake up the leaves that the city's mature oak tree (located in Kansas City's easement in front of my yard) dumps all over my property.

City's tree, city's leaves...my problem.

So I borrow a pickup truck and we throw about 6 cubic yards of the city's leaves in the back, enclosed by tarps. Then I check the city's website, just to make sure there will be no unpleasant surprises, like "to serve you better, we're closed for the year."


True to Kansas City's policy of "giving you less for more," the yard waste dump rules have changed to screw us better. Now we're not only supposed to gather up and deliver the city's leaves to the dump, we're also supposed to pay for it.

They've magnanimously granted us an allowance of 2 pickup truck beds of leaves annually, provided the load is level with the edge of the bed, so that's about 3 cubic yards. We can also bring leaves in 5 bag increments weekly. After that amount, you pay for the privilege of disposing the excess. (Oh, and no more grass clippings.)

So I wrote to every member of the city council who voted for this stupid new policy. All present did.

Dear Mayor Funkhouser, and Councilmembers Skaggs, Ford, Johnson, Sanders Brooks, Gottstein, Marcason, Riley, Jolly, and Sharp,

Every one of you voted in favor of charging residents to dispose of leaves. Shame on you.

Did any of you consider the possibility that some of us are disposing of leaves the fall from CITY trees? 

In my situation, a colossal city-owned oak in a city easement covers my property in many, many cubic yards of leaves every year. This is very far beyond the meager amount the city allows to be disposed of without charge.

It's not enough to derive an annual benefit from my free labor in collecting the CITY'S debris, now you decide you must CHARGE me to do so?


I suppose you'd also agree that if a city-owned truck stopped in front of my house and threw an enormous load of garbage all over my yard, I should be expected to collect it, and also pay to dispose of it, since it's beyond my personal two-bag allowance? 

That is precisely what you're saddling me and other similarly situated residents with. Furthermore, this scheme effectively renders 100% of our personal leaf debris "chargeable."

The inventive ways this city's elected "representatives" constantly manufacture to pick my pocket never ceases to amaze. It it only rivaled by your inventiveness in excusing businesses from shouldering their fair share of the public burden.

Who's interests do you suppose you're serving with this? I'd really like to know, because it's clearly not mine.

I think a reasonable compromise is: I won't charge the city to collect the city's leaf debris if the city won't charge me to dispose of it.

I look forward to hearing from you.


So far, I've heard back from the assistants to  Jan Marcason, Mayor Funkhouser, and Beth Gottstein. They all told me that I can put 20 bags on the curb December 4th, and take 5 yard bags to the leaf dump anytime. So I reply, more or less thusly:

Thanks for replying. 

Yes, I'm aware of the curbside pickup. I'm not requesting information on the curbside pickup, I'm talking about the drop-off. Five bags wouldn't BEGIN to hold the amount of leaves a mature oak drops. I'd guess it'd be about 10x that.

I currently have about 6 cubic yards of leaves from the city's tree piled in the back of my pickup. I see my alternatives as this: 

A: I can unload half of the leaves, then on Saturday drive from Brookside to Deramus, then come back to Brookside, load that other half of the leaves back in the truck, then drive back to Deramus. An utter pain in the butt, and a complete waste of effort and gas, but at least I don't have to pay the city for the privilege of collecting and disposing of the city's debris.

B: I can leave the pickup loaded as it is and pay the city $13.50 to collect and dispose of city's debris because I dared to bring my 6 cubic yard annual "allowance" in one convenient trip.

C: I can spend $10 on bags, and several more hours transferring the city's debris from the back of the pickup to bags (and hope that all this fits in 20 bags, which I doubt.)

Gosh, they all sound awesome. Which would you choose? I'd prefer 

D: Collect and drop off the city's leaf debris, pay nothing. 

Not sure how this is unreasonable, since the city is the party receiving the benefit of my effort.

Not sure why you're unwilling to address the issues I brought up in the original letter either.


After diverting $3 billion of tax revenues from city services via TIF back to the pockets of developers, our leaders are surprised they can’t afford to provide city services, so they charge the actual taxpayers some additional fees if they want them.


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