A garbage solution: Iowa City, Peninsula neighborhood resolve waste pickup dispute

City converts residents to using carts, but will still pick them up in alley

Garbage and recycling containers are stacked outside a house this past July in the Peninsula neighborhood in Iowa City.
Garbage and recycling containers are stacked outside a house this past July in the Peninsula neighborhood in Iowa City. The city’s proposal to end alley pickup in the neighborhood sparked a backlash from residents over the summer. The two sides, however, eventually reached an agreement in which residents would switch to using the same waste carts the rest of the city does, but the carts still would be picked up in the alley. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)


In July, 115 households in Iowa City’s Peninsula neighborhood received a letter informing them that waste carts — the same ones used by residents across the city — would be issued to them and the city would be switching to curbside waste and recycling pickup as opposed to picking up in the alley.

Adam Pretorius, Peninsula Neighborhood Homeowners Association President, told city officials that the association board had received “dozens of livid responses” from residents about the proposed change. Pretorius said because of the design and layout of homes and alleys in the neighborhood, some residents would be forced to move their waste carts down the alley, around the corner and back up the street. One resident would be required to move the waste cart more than 600 feet, Pretorius said.

The city said the narrow streets and alleys in the Peninsula neighborhood made it difficult for the city’s collection trucks to navigate. Instead, city workers were forced to pick up garbage by hand. The city said the result was inefficient and unsightly.

What’s happened since

A tempest in a trash can has been avoided.

Iowa City Public Works Director Ron Knoche said waste carts identical to those used throughout the city were issued to Peninsula neighborhood residents, but those carts still are being placed in the alley for pickup.

“We’re picking the neighborhood pretty much the same way we’d pick any other neighborhood at this point,” Knoche said.

He said the city is adding no-parking zones in the areas where trucks had difficulty navigating, which will allow the large trucks ability to access those alleys.

When the discussion on waste pickup in the Peninsula neighborhood began, Knoche said the agreement dating to when the neighborhood was platted that waste pickup would occur only in the alleys had been lost to time and staff turnover. He said the city is committed to honoring the agreements it made when the Peninsula was designed.


There still are 13 homes in the neighborhood where city workers have to collect by hand, Knoche said. The city is working through how to best serve those homes.

“We’ve taken care of the majority,” Knoche said.

Pretorius said Peninsula residents are pleased with the outcome of discussions with the city.

“We think both sides came out very happy,” he said. “We appreciate both sides working together to find a solution.”

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