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  • jeanadelsman4

Newsletter No. 23

  • Trash Talk

  • Racial bias forums

  • MIA at North Torrance Neighborhood Assn.

  • Unleaded airline fuel

  • $1 million for little houses

  • Link to video of Mike Griffiths' housing presentation

It’s time to deal with all the trash talk that has flooded my inbox.

Yes, I am talking about the recently activated regulations regarding food waste and the requirement to separate it from regular garbage.

People have been complaining about suddenly needing to put yucky stuff into their green bins, but this program has been in the works since 2016 when the state passed SB1383. Last March, the Torrance City Council approved the ordinance that took effect Jan. 1.

Most residents weren’t paying attention until December when they received letters telling them about the new garbage requirements. Many of their complaints found their way to my inbox.

I was aware of the state mandate, but wrongly thought it applied only to single-family homes. Thanks to my readers, I have now done more research on the issues.

· The Yuck: Plastic bags and compostable bags are forbidden. Residents think that they have to put the food waste directly into the green bins. After reading a lot of literature, I can understand why they believe that.

Sanitation Services Manager Chris Kuebert assures me that’s not the case.

Soiled paper bags – and once they have food scraps, they will be soiled – that have no metal or wax linings are permissible. We are talking, for example, about the standard brown paper bags that grocers sell at checkout.

· Why no compostable bags? According to Kuebert, the recycling industry has no set standards. Items are called biodegradable, but they aren’t. Bags are called compostable, but they don’t disintegrate quickly enough for their final destination.

· Why do some cities allow them? This has to do with where the garbage ends up. Nancy Power, one of the first persons to awaken me to the issue, has a daughter living in Carlsbad, which takes its trash to a facility that is OK with compostable bags. Torrance’s waste goes to a facility in Bakersfield that can’t handle them.

· So why don’t we take our trash to another facility? If only it were that easy. Kuebert said the Los Angeles area lacks “the infrastructure to handle all the material that will now be diverted from landfills.”

· How will the City know what was in our bins? Cameras. The state requires the trucks to have them in their buckets.

Kuebert said the City has had cameras all along. The operators have always looked to make sure that non-recyclables weren’t contaminating the blue bins. They also check for hazardous materials and anything that would damage the City’s machinery. Oh, yes, they also look for bodies . . . not that they have ever found one.

Of course, cameras won’t catch bad stuff in opaque bags in the regular trash.

· What will it cost scofflaws? Here is the fine schedule:

o First violation, $50 to $100

o Second violation, $100 to $200

o Third and subsequent, $250 to $500

“We are not primed to be the Trash Police,” Kuebert reassured me, adding, “We will have a big education piece.”

When drivers identify problem bins, they will tag them to make sure residents are aware of the issue. In some cases, a City employee will let the resident know how to fix it.

· Bottom line: It is all about the environment. The state wants to keep food waste out of landfills because that creates methane, which is the problem.

The City has a LOT of material on its website. If you’re a wonk like me, you will have a good time clicking all over the place. Here are a few places to visit:

For history: (Yes, commercial is misspelled – FYI in case it gets fixed.)

For basic information:

Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Columbia Park, 4046 190th St., at the northwest corner of Prairie and 190th.

For L.A. County beginner and advanced workshops:

“Organic waste costs twice as much to dispose of as regular trash,” Kuebert said, which is one reason for encouraging residents to start composting.

Jim Montgomery, a longtime Hollywood Riviera resident, has been composting since the early ‘90s.

Montgomery, a JPL rocket scientist, is down-to-Earth when it comes to the environment. He probably comes closer to living off the grid than anyone in Torrance and his go-to source is Rodale –

Let the composting begin.

Mark your calendar:

What can we do to address racial bias in our community? The League of Women Voters Torrance Area is planning a series of forums on the topic. The event is free, but a registration is required:

Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. Toyota Meeting Hall, 3330 Civic Center Dr.

Before I go:

v Sanitation’s Kuebert was at last week’s North Torrance Neighborhood Assn. meeting to spread the word on the new food waste policy. District 3’s Asam Sheikh was there to support Kuebert and to talk about other issues of interest to residents. District 6’s Mike Griffiths and District 4’s Sharon Kalani came to back up Sheikh, whose constituents are only partially in North Torrance.

Who wasn’t there? The council member whose district is totally in North Torrance. Jon Kaji ignored the organizers. So they had a sign with his name at the table where he would have sat.

v Thanks to Torrance Treasurer Tim Goodrich for this link – – which says unleaded airplane fuel may be available as early as this summer.

v Torrance’s little houses got a $1 million boost. Rep. Ted Lieu announced the Feds are giving the City the grant to assure that the 40 units are able to continue as a resource. Stats show that 99 percent of the city’s unhoused were either residents or had ties to the city.

v If you missed Griffiths’ housing presentation at the Riviera Homeowners Assn. meeting last month, you can watch it online, thanks to Bakers Man videographer Austin Rusa. Griffiths had lots of good takeaways. Go to scroll down to the black bar under Griffiths’ photo.

v Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or address any concerns? Send it to; in the subject line put the agenda item or the topic. If you also want your comments to appear in an agenda item’s Staff Report, send it as well to Make sure you have sent it by 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting – earlier if you want it included in the agenda’s first posting, which can be a week ahead.

Jean Adelsman

Feel free to share this email -- or tell friends about And if you email a response to, please indicate whether you are expressing a thought for my eyes only or whether I may share your comments with the whole audience.

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