LAFAYETTE — A trash cart left for too long at the road could bring a fine of $25 with repeat offenders facing up to $150 a year.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday tweaked regulations governing how long residents and business owners can leave out their trash carts after garbage is collected, raising the maximum fine and making it easier to go after landlords for multiple violations at rental properties.
The changes tighten up trash-cart mandates approved in October to address what some council members said is the unsightly issue of residents not pulling their trash carts from the road for several days after pickup.
“It just gives that community some empowerment to do something about things they don’t agree with,” said City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux.
The original trash can regulations had set a maximum fine of $100 and gave no time frame, leaving the door open for scofflaw property owners to argue that $100 was the maximum in fines they could ever face, said city-parish Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope.
The tweaked regulations raise the cap to $150 per year and specify that a landlord could be on the hook for the maximum $150 fine for each rental or lease site they own, rather than all of their properties combined.
“If they have a property owner with multiple units, they are responsible for each address,” Pope said.
The changes approved Tuesday also struck language requiring city-parish government to seek a lien on property for unpaid trash-cart fines.
The decision on whether to seek a lien is now at the discretion of city-parish staff.
Pope said his department would rather work with property owners and avoid seeking a lien, a legal move that can make it difficult for residents to sell their property or get a loan unless they pay the past-due fine.
“Our hope is that someone heeds the warning and stops violating the law of leaving an empty waste container at the street,” he said.
The council voted 7-2 to approve the changes with councilmen Jared Bellard and William Theriot in opposition.
Bellard raised concerns about city-parish staff deciding who should face a lien, and Theriot questioned why landlords should face fines for the violations of their tenants.
The regulations require trash carts in the city of Lafayette and in rural subdivisions to be pulled back from the road within 24 hours after garbage collection and stored within 3 feet of the home or business.
In rural areas outside of subdivisions, trash carts must be pulled back at least 10 feet from the road.
City-parish staff can make exceptions for families on vacation or others who have a legitimate excuse.
City-parish government mailed 57 warning letters for violations from the time the original regulations were passed in October until the end of 2013, according to figures provided by Pope.
Eleven fines were issued, and eight of those are past due, according to the figures.
Pope said all the enforcement action has been driven by complaints.
“We are doing this by report only,” he said. “We don’t have time, quite honestly, to do the cart patrol.”