Vietri: Scottsdale recycling issues exacerbated by short-term rental

In May 2016, Scottsdale City Council introduced a strategic plan for community-wide solid waste and recycling.

The intent was this plan would be put into place to decrease the amount of trash added to our landfills through the idea of reduce, reuse, recycle.

Brian Vietri

The planned reduction is 20 percent by 2030.

The strategic plan contains policies that are driven by community values and visions as represented in the city’s General Plan 2035. These policies provide for the collection, disposal, recycling, or reuse of solid waste generated within the city, while adhering to the environmental and sustainability values that are important to our community. The community vision is built on a foundation of citizen involvement.

The strategic plan goals as set forth in the Scottsdale Community Solid Waste and Recycling Strategic Plan are in jeopardy for the following reasons.

The inactions of Mayor Jim Lane to protect the current community values and visions, by allowing recycle containers to be removed from Airbnb short term vacation rental houses. The failure of the city of Scottsdale Solid Waste and Recycle Department ability to enforce its own solid waste trash and recycling program rules.

There has been an ongoing problem with trash and recycling next door at the Airbnb short-term rental property. The Airbnb tenants have continually put their trash in the recycle bins, and when filled, they added to the neighbors recycle bin, and/or simply surrounded the  recycle bin with plastic bags of trash on the ground.

The city of Scottsdale even picked up contaminated recyclables with plastic bags contained in overfilled recycle bins several times, even after I had notified them of the contamination in advance. (Plastic bags are the number one item not allowed on the recyclables list)

Property owners who rent out their properties know the requirements of trash and recycle programs. Trash schedules, and recycling information is sent out monthly by the city of Scottsdale in the utility bills.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the property owner does not pass this info on to the host/manager expecting the host/manager to deal with.

This is proven by the Airbnb host/manager for the property next door to me, she also lives in south Scottsdale, but does not care about recycling, or care to enforce, and can not enforce the trash and recycle program rules for all the properties she manages. According to her “the recycle bins are a constant headache, and she is tired of dealing with it, they are going away.”

She also stated “apparently you have to be the mayor to get recycle bins hauled away, haha” and “I would hope by next Monday (Apr 10th) they will be picked up not only at this property but all my properties.”

Unfortunately, the city also doesn’t want to deal with this problem. In fact, the Scottsdale solid waste rep personally emptied two overflowing recycle bins by hand, after the Airbnb renters next door filled them with regular trash. One of the two recycle bins was not even theirs, it was the neighbors. This was not the first time that this has happened. The recycle bins were emptied and the recycle bin for the Airbnb property was taken away. Another neighbor even asked, “how come they get special treatment?”

I received a private message from the Scottsdale public information officer in reference to my last complaint, which read:

“We are also currently working with the property manager of this and other AirBNBs to remove their recycle bins because of the difficulty of controlling what goes into the recycle bin.“

The renters/tenants of short-term properties don’t care or want to be bothered with following recycling program rules, they are there only to have fun.

The owners of these short-term rentals, Airbnb, and the hosts/managers, along with the tenants/reference absolutely no interest in adhering to the environmental or sustainability ethic values, nor are they driven by community values or visions for the city.

The city of Scottsdale Mayor Lane, code enforcement, and trash, recycle departments, make excuses for and treat these owners and hosts of short vacation rentals like gold.

It is my belief the city of Scottsdale has failed and will continue to fail to accomplish the following policies contained within its Solid Waste and Recycle Strategic Plan:

  • Maintain and expand citywide recycle programs- single family residences.
  • Maintain and expand citywide recycle programs- multi family residences.
  • Seek new, cost effective and environmentally-friendly methods of solid waste collection,  recycling, and disposal.

Editor’s note: Mr. Vietri is a resident of Scottsdale

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