Spring cleaning isn’t what it used to be in Ventura County
Until the 1950s, waste disposal in Ventura County was often a community affair. Neighbors hauled each other’s trash to local dumps, sometimes returning home with more stuff salvaged than thrown away.
Some of these sites, such as the Ojai Valley landfill, were burning flammable items at the end of each day. Other dumps, such as Robert Walker’s “See’ers by the Sea” in Ventura, loaded scavengers. More than 30 years ago, Walker told me his company’s name was a pun for “Sears,” jokingly comparing the operation he started in the early 1950s to the world’s largest retailer. country of the time.
Today we have professional companies or municipal fleets that collect our waste. Collectors contract with the cities or county, obtaining the exclusive right to charge for garbage and recyclables collection and to use uniform carts placed neatly at our curbs. These contracts typically require collectors to provide free disposal and recycling of items that are too large for curbside carts.
One way for local collectors to fulfill this obligation is to offer residents free curbside bulky waste pickup. Upon request, out-of-town residents can have two items picked up up to twice a year. In most cities, the limit is two items once a year.
For example, Ventura, Ojai, Fillmore, and Camarillo contract with Harrison Industries for free bulky item pickups. Once a year, residents may place up to two mattresses, sofas or other large items curbside for free collection. To use this service, residents must first call Harrison (647-1414) and arrange pickup.
Some local carriers are also required to hold community clean-up days. The Ventura County Public Works Agency, for example, will hold 10 free events between April 23 and October 22 for residents of select unincorporated communities.
Similar events are planned in cities. For example, Ventura’s next cleanup event will be on May 21. About 300 appointments are available for city residents — verified by ID or utility bill — at cityofventura.ca.gov/es or by calling 652-4525. The appointment form asks participants to answer an important question: “Have you considered options for donating or reusing items in good condition?”
Many of these events have a reuse area where the best delivered items are set aside for others to pick up, reminiscent of the days of See’ers by the Sea. These exchanges, however, regularly fail to save any valuables.
Oxnard also offers free drop-off days for its residents at the Del Norte Recycling and Transfer Station and in their neighborhoods. At the next event on August 13, each of the city’s four regions will have dumpsters at a central location for recycling and disposal. Residents, attested by an ID or electricity bill, can throw away bulky items and recycle e-waste and tires (no rims).
Residents of Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks and adjacent unincorporated communities benefit from a contractual partnership between the county and Waste Management’s Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center. These residents can use the landfill free of charge on certain days. The Simi landfill maximizes recycling these days, separating disposal areas by type of waste: concrete, asphalt, garden/wood clippings, tires, mattresses, metal, and appliances.
Under a new contract with Athens Services, residents of Thousand Oaks also have access to the Calabasas Landfill, where they can dispose of up to two vehicle loads three days free per year.
Cleaning is no longer allowed in landfills and days of community gatherings in landfills have been replaced by effective and safe waste management. But today’s waste management is still a community affair with free pick-up and drop-off days that curb illegal dumping, increase recycling and lower disposal costs for participants.
David Goldstein, environmental resources analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at (805) 658-4312 or [email protected]