Solid Waste Services says a pilot program they launched two years ago in Government Hill, in response to a family of bears rummaging through garbage cans in the neighborhood, is working.
They deployed bear-resistant garbage cans – bins with a lock on it to keep the bears out.
“We wanted to be proactive and get ahead of that and have a positive interaction with communities,” Birgitta Kyttle, customer services manager with Solid Waste Services said.
Kyttle said right now, there are about 50 of the 64-gallon bear-resistant roll carts and 50 of the 96-gallon ones in the Government Hill area.
“Right now, there is no cost,” she said. “It’s zero cost just to get them out there and prevent bear interaction.”
But, a proposal getting presented to the Anchorage Assembly would increase the monthly rate by two dollars each month for the bear-resistant garbage cans that are 64 or 96 gallons, compared to the regular ones of that size. If approved, it would go into effect for their customers in the agency’s mandatory service area January 2018.
In Mountain View, homeowners who say they’ve seen bear activity say it could be worth the cost. Allen Franklin says he’s seen bears rummaging through his garbage cans.
“One kid tried to walk up to it and he says, ‘I’m going to go pet it, that’s my dog,’” he said. “You’re taking a chance, you know?”
Franklin says paying two dollars more each month isn’t strenuous.
“But I think the city ought to pay for it,” he said.
Mountain View Community Council President Jason Bookman says costs do add up.
“Most of the people here are pretty price conscientious and $2 represents a pretty significant thing multiplied by over the year and also, a lot of the homes here are also rentals,” he said.
Bookman says there are a lot of efforts to keep the community cleaner and safer right now.
“There’s been a lot of proactive action from the Muni and APD working to control and limit the amount of camping,” Bookman said, citing bear activity triggered by homeless camps in the neighboring trails.
Kyttle says the agency strives to be equal in its rates to all customers, but, there could be an exemption process customers can go through.