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St. Pete’s Historic Old Northeast Assn. provides visual proof curbside recycling won’t work

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association is distributing a photo showcasing its concerns over curbside recycling.

The photo shows an overflowing blue bin parked in front of an otherwise well-manicured home. Trash – not recycling – is spilling from the bin.

There’s a greasy pizza box – one of several items listed on the City of St. Pete’s website and in instructional materials distributed along with the bins as a recycling no-no. There also seems to be plastic bags, another recycling do-not.

The photo represents two things. The first paints a picture of what happens when people don’t pay attention. Paperwork attached to the blue bins upon distribution clearly stated when pickup days were and what and what not to place in the bins.

Ignoring those instructions leads to ugly scenes like the one in HONNA’s photo. If the homeowner who placed that bin along the quaint roadway did so out of ignorance, he/or she should be corrected.

This is not how you recycle.

Or, if the bin was placed there to prove a point – it is this: some homes simply don’t have the design necessary to support curbside pickup.

The home shown with overflowing trash where neatly collected recycling should be doesn’t have a driveway. It doesn’t have a fenced in front yard. There appears to be nowhere to conveniently store that big blue bin without it being an eyesore.

Even if this person corrects their recycling ways, there’s still going to be a problem. If Joe Blow homeowner wants to keep his home’s lovely façade in check, he’s going to have a bit of extra work on his hands.

That’s because this example represents 40 percent of all homes in St. Pete where trash is collected in alleyways – not curbside.

Homes with individual trash cans roll those to the curb twice a week because their homes are designed to do it that way.

Homes like those in Historic Old Northeast, however, are not.

The photo distributed by HONNA may or may not have been sensationalized, but it represents a truth the city is having a hard time swallowing – a fire not yet doused.

That’s why the group is hosting a press conference Monday morning – the day curbside recycling officially launches for residents with a gray “A1” sticker on their bins.

“HONNA is concerned that there are many hindrances and unintended consequences associated with the mandated curbside pickup: homes in these neighborhoods aren’t functionally designed to inconspicuously store the 95-gallon recycling bins, aiding in urban blight; the recycling trucks impose risks by navigating on already narrow streets; and young children playing in front yards will be less visible to truck drivers, thus imposing risks to youth safety,” the group wrote in a press release.

The press release seems to suggest recycling is mandatory – it is not. What is mandatory at this time is that if a resident is going to recycle they have to use the 95-gallon bins provided and take it to the curb for pickup. If they put it in the alley – where their trash goes – it simply won’t get picked up.

According to HONNA, City Council member Darden Rice is agreeable to the group’s recommendation to alter the program to allow alley pickup of recycling for applicable homes.

They wrote, Rice “strongly supports HONNA’s reasonable request and has asked that the City take a flexible approach and work cooperatively on alternatives.”

HONNA’s press conference will be in the alley behind the home of association president Peter Motzenbecker located at 112 Tenth Avenue Northeast.

The group says they are supportive of recycling, but not of a one-size-fits all curbside approach. The press conference aims to highlight the challenges with curbside pickup in traditional neighborhoods.

Prior to that press conference, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman will be on hand for a press conference at 9:30 a.m. at a residence at 161 19 Avenue South celebrating the program’s official launch.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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