Supervisors continue to wrestle with mandatory trash service ordinance

KINGMAN – Trash has been piling up on properties in rural Mohave County to the point it’s out of control, and somebody needs to take responsibility, either the person living on the property or in many cases, the absentee owner.

That’s why the Board of Supervisors wants to amend the county’s anti-littering ordinance to require landlords to provide commercial trash collection service to renters, and to give a 10-day notice by mail to litter generators to remove the litter.

The item was tabled at Monday’s regular board meeting so the county attorney can make changes in the wording of the ordinance.

Supervisor Steve Moss said he had a major concern about requiring commercial trash service when it could be done by the renters or property owners themselves. But it needs to be documented.

Supervisor Buster Johnson wanted to know how much it would cost for trash service in rural areas, and said he was definitely against the 10-day notice. “That’s way too long,” he said.

One speaker from the audience questioned whether the ordinance would be constitutional, citing the 14th amendment which prohibits any state from denying any person equal protection from the law.

Robert Taylor, deputy county attorney, said the county has the authority to enforce all sanitation laws. Also, Arizona’s landlord-tenant laws require the landlord to remove rubbish, so the county ordinance would be consistent with the misdemeanor penalty for landlords.

Taylor said more litter is generated by renters than landlords, and that all discrimination is not unlawful if it’s based on legitimate rationale.

“Part of the concern here is the far-flung areas. One way to address that is imposing the ordinance in areas where trash collection is cost-prohibitive,” he said.

This ordinance would also give landlords the ability to negotiate with tenants to provide documentation of trash removal such as receipts from the county landfill.

Michael Finnegan of Citizens Action Team said he’s been going after litter generators for decades and 95 percent of them are renters.

“A lot of them have criminal records,” he said. “They’re driving cars with donut wheels and duct-taped windows. They will not spend any money in the area. They don’t buy houses. Some landlords provide dumpsters for renters and these people will not drive two blocks to dump trash. They’re that lazy.”

Supervisor Hildy Angius said the county already has sanitation codes that aren’t being enforced. How would this be any different?

Supervisor Gary Watson answered that Mohave County Sheriff Doug Shuster attended the meeting and one of his requests was to become more involved in enforcement.

The board has determined that littering is a serious problem in Mohave County that affects the health and welfare of citizens and degrades property values. State laws do not fully address the scope of the problem in the county, the board noted.