Aspen continues to grapple with wildlife ordinance |

Aspen continues to grapple with wildlife ordinance

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Aspen Times photo

ASPEN – Aspen residents who must dole out hundreds of dollars on wildlife-resistant garbage cans should be compensated in some way, Aspen City Council members agreed Monday night.

The decision was made during a work session with the Aspen Police Department, which was charged with finding a way to subsidize the cost of the containers. That directive came in March, after the council approved an ordinance requiring every property owner in Aspen to have a wildlife-resistant garbage can that is numbered so it can be traced back to its owner. Accessible garbage that attracts bears is the overriding concern.

In a memo to the council, the police department outlined four options related to the new trash can ordinance and its associated costs: “take no action”; a rebate program; a trash can sales event hosted by the city; and having the city secure an agreement with a local retailer to offer discounted containers.

The department’s preference was the “take no action” approach.

“We really feel like the community is already behind the ordinance,” Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said, adding that a loose poll of residents showed that 70 percent are already in compliance and many of the remaining property owners have their containers on order. “We’d prefer to use education, in a positive way, to affect people’s behavior.”

Linn said that course of action would save the city time and money while keeping police out of the trash business.

“Residents, especially if they have been here for a long time, know it’s time to participate. They know it’s the right thing to do,” added Community Safety Supervisor Gretchen Born.

According to Linn and Born, approved containers are available locally for approximately $325 and through the city’s aspenbears.come website for around $200. They said they’ve received very few complaints about the expenditure.

This did not sit well with Mayor Mick Ireland, who explained that when the council approved the new law they were told containers would be in the $200 range and that even then they had agreed to look into subsidizing the purchase for property owners.

“I feel like the rug’s been pulled out from underneath me, and I’m not particularly happy about that,” he said. “When we passed this ordinance we told people we’d try to help them with the expense. We ought to do what we said we were going to do.

“There are people for whom this will be a hardship.”

Still, council members agreed with the police that overseeing a rebate program or working with retailers on discounted trash cans is probably out of the police’s purview.

Thus it was decided that the city manager’s office will now determine the best course of action, whether that be a straight-up rebate for everyone or through an application program, a deal with a local retailer, or simply by helping property owners navigate the Internet to find the best deals on wildlife-resistant garbage cans.

“There are ways around this problem. … This is not that big of a problem,” said Councilman Torre. “We can find a creative way to make this work and live up to what we promised.”

The wildlife-resistant trash can law goes into effect June 1. In addition to the type of container required, containers can be outside between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. People who are found out of compliance after being warned face a $250 fine for the first offense; the second offense is $500; and the third offense is $999 with a mandatory court appearance.