The Juneau Assembly voted Monday to fund a city-wide bear education campaign as it polishes a new law that would ban plastic lids from many of the town's Dumpsters.
The changes are part of a city plan to protect bears and people. The effort emphasizes enforcement, education and stronger garbage rules.
The Assembly voted to send back to committee an ordinance that would require people to replace plastic lids with metal lids on Dumpsters that have been opened by bears. Assembly member Dale Anderson said the goal is to make the ordinance stronger.
"This bear ordinance needs stricter guidelines, not looser," he said.
The ordinance gives bears "one free lunch" before a metal lid is required, City Manager Dave Palmer said.
"If we say all Dumpsters have to have metal lids, we'll have a lot of folks out of compliance," he said. "If we go with this provision, we'll focus on areas with a problem and go to where the problem is."
People also will have the option to put a Dumpster into a city-approved walled area or enclosure, according to the draft ordinance.
Anderson urged all Juneau residents to look in their backyards and address garbage problems now.
"If you know your Dumpster is a problem, now is the time to start getting that Dumpster straightened out."
The Assembly could make the lid ordinance effective immediately "to stay ahead of the great awakening" of bears this spring, Anderson said. As written, the ordinance would go into effect in 30 days.
Juneau Assembly member Jim Powell said the ordinance would "phase-in" metal lids.
"I think that's a reasonable approach," he said. "We're not going to require everyone in the community to have iron lids. One thing, we couldn't do it right away and it would be an undue financial burden on the private sector. If we phase it in over time, that way we have an ordinance that does a good job."
During public comment, Juneau resident Dennis Harris said metal lids are needed on every Dumpster in town.
"Make the law absolutely clear - you must have a metal lid or enclose it. We're giving people who are too cheap to do it a free ride," he said.
Waste Management services about 600 Dumpsters in town and about 40 have metal lids, according to Maria Gladziszewski, a city staff member who is working on the bear issue. It costs $11 a month to rent a metal lid on a small Dumpster and between $20 and $25 a month for a larger Dumpster. The cost to purchase a metal lid is between $200 and $500, she said.
In other action, the Assembly voted to spend $10,700 to educate Juneau residents about bears and garbage. The money will fund an advertising campaign, a four-page bear newsletter to be mailed to Juneau households and bear safety lessons in local schools. City staff members will decide exactly how the money is appropriated, Palmer said.
The city already has $2,000 set aside for the newsletter.
Assembly member Randy Wanamaker, who voted against the education ordinance, said more emphasis on elementary students was needed.
"We're moving in the right direction, that's fine. It's just that the education-public awareness program needed more work to do the most with the money we're going to spend," he said.
Joanna Markell can be reached at email@example.com.