David Pizer of Scottsdale

David Pizer of Scottsdale was mystified over the disappearance of his bulk trash till he learned that thoughtful neighbors spared him from his HOA's wrath.

 

David Pizer likes to work in his yard, so he recently got his up to snuff.

Then he did what pretty much anyone would do: he put the bulk trash out to be picked up by the city’s Solid Waste Department.

A week later, it still wasn’t picked up.

So, he wrote a letter to Mayor David Ortega and was told it could take weeks or maybe months before it was picked up.

In the meantime, Pizer’s homeowners association told him to get the trash off his lawn because it wanted to reseed the area.

He couldn’t put the trash back in his back yard because no one knew when the city was going to pick it up, so Pizer got stuck between the city, which won’t allow him to put his bulk trash on the curb, and his HOA, which wanted it off the lawn immediately.

It took 15 days, but he finally got the trash picked up – not by the city, but his neighbors, who knew Pizer was in trouble with the HOA .

“It almost brought a tear to my eye,” Pizer said.

The slowdown in the pickup schedule is largely caused by a manpower shortage in the bulk trash side of the city’s Solid Waste Department, spokeswoman Erin Walsh said.

That side of the department is down is down by 11 people, which is 33 percent of the workforce.

“It’s not a fun job,” Walsh said. “It can be dangerous in the winter but during the summer, in the heat, people decide they don’t want to do it.”

Attrition isn’t the sole cause of this back-up, though. 

The department loses people every summer, but this year’s monsoon season was also particularly bad, causing people to put out more than usual the amount of bulk trash.

“People are leaving whole trees for us to pick up,” Walsh said.

The department cannot pull people from the regular trash pick up or that would get behind too, Walsh said.

“There’s really something wrong if you can’t get your trash picked up on time,” Pizer said. “People don’t think your trash is important until it’s not picked up.”

Resident David Roberts, who claims bulk trash in his neighborhood has been sitting on the street for 38 days and counting, took Ortega and the City Council to task on the issue during the Oct. 19 council meeting.

“Scottsdale homeowners have become painfully aware of the council and the mayor’s failure to have brush and bulk trash removed from our neighborhoods,” Roberts said. 

“Those of us that followed along on the city website are aware of the factors and excuses the city is using to escape providing service that we all pay for: severe monsoon and labor shortages. Well, I’ve lived at my current address for over 20 years and I know this is not the first year we’ve had a severe monsoon and I know throughout the valley there have been labor shortages,” he continued, adding:

“It is however, the first time we’ve experienced these factors with this leadership. Mr. Mayor, you’ve been in this position since January of this year. This is a reflection of your leadership. The citizens are grading you on your performance as unsatisfactory.”

Roberts added, “I did notice that my water bill came on time and I expect my property tax bill to come on time. I guess there’s no shortage of labor in the billing department and probably not in the payroll department either.”

Department officials hope to be caught up on the curbside pickup by the end of the month so people are not having to maneuver around the trash to go trick or treating.

Pizer joked before he got the trash picked up that he was going to put little pumpkins on the nine or 10 bags of refuse to make them look like ghosts.

Solid Waste officials are also hoping to get bulk trash normally put out in alleys picked up by the end of November.

Before his neighbors rallied around him, Pizer did not know when his trash was going to be picked up so he paid someone $45 to haul off the big tree limbs he removed from his yard and piled up the bags in his driveway.

The move satisfied the HOA, but it cost him a few friends among some of his neighbors.

“They use to wave hello and now they look the other way and pretend they don’t see us,” Pizer said.

Not to mention Pizer had to move the bags every time he or his wife wanted to pull out of the driveway.

Then his other neighbors stepped in, each one taking one bag of trash.

Pizer figures he’s also gained something through this experience.

“I came away with the knowledge of why people hate homeowners associations,” he said.

The city is conducting outreach with the HOAs to explain the situation, Walsh said.

She said the city is advertising to fill the open vacant positions. The pay range for someone with no experience, a solid waste equipment operator I, is $17.77/hr – $25.84/hr.  

 

“Scottsdale homeowners have become painfully aware of the council and the mayor’s failure to have brush and bulk trash removed from our neighborhoods.”