Palm Springs explained: How, when, why you may need to separate food scraps from your garbage
The new year brought new laws in California. Among those laws is Senate Bill 1383, which requires that organic waste be separated from other materials when you put out your trash. We looked into how it might work in Palm Springs, when it could start, and why it’s needed. Below is what we discovered.
What happens under SB 1383?
Palm Springs will move from a two-bin system to a three-bin system. Aside from bins you currently place curbside for items that go in the landfill (what we all know as garbage) and for recyclables, you will also have a bin for organic and “green” waste.
What counts as organic or green waste?
Lots of things do. Everything from fruits and vegetables to meats, fish, and bones is considered organic. Green waste includes landscape and pruning trimmings and also food-soiled paper such as pizza boxes, paper plates, and napkins. You can expect lots of communication from the city about what should and should not go in the new bins.
Why is this necessary?
Simply put, it’s because of climate change. “With methane gas emissions that our food releases when it’s breaking down in a landfill, there are significant impacts on our climate,” explained Tracy Sheldon, the program coordinator for the city’s Office of Sustainability.
How will this work?
Palm Springs Disposal will pick up the bins just like they currently pick up your recycling and garbage containers. The materials will be processed at a separate facility at the Edom Hill Landfill and become compost available for purchase. The city will purchase some of the compost and plans to use it at parks — possibly as much as 3,800 tons every year.
When do I need to begin separating kitchen waste from other trash?
Not any time soon. Even though the law went into place on Jan. 1, construction of the Edom Hill composting facility hasn’t started. Palm Springs Disposal also needs to acquire bins for everyone, and supply chain issues make that difficult. “There is no firm date we will start,” Sheldon said, but sometime this year is the goal.
What if I live in an apartment or condo?
Multifamily complexes must currently have landfill dumpsters and also recycling containers. Under SB 1383, they will also need containers for organic waste. HOAs and apartment managers will need to work with Palm Springs Disposal to make organic waste bins available for people who live in their units.
Will I be penalized for not separating everything?
Not initially. But state law does allow for fines beginning in 2024. The city is not interested in penalizing residents but will be required to do “lid flips” to check compliance. If organic waste is discovered in a resident’s landfill bin, a fine will be the last resort after all education efforts have been made.
How can I store my food scraps so they don’t stink?
While there are a variety of countertop food scrap bins available designed to trap odors, you can also put food scraps in a bag in the freezer to avoid odor issues. Whether they need to be bagged when they go in the bins hasn’t been decided.
Who pays for all this?
You do, as part of your garbage bill. Whether that bill will increase, however, is still to be determined. A recent survey by the League of California Cities found that most local governments expect to raise rates in response to SB 1383, hopefully less than $1 per year.
Are there alternatives to trucking away compostable materials?
Yes, but not in the city yet. Sheldon said that while the city hopes to work with groups such as Desert Compost to build a neighborhood composting site, nothing is currently in the works. However, there are other options in the Coachella Valley, and some are listed here.
COVID RECORD? The latest results from testing the city’s wastewater show there was a possible record amount of COVID in the community just after Christmas. “Last year our previous high was recorded at just over 2.6 million viral copies per liter,” wrote Councilmember Christy Holstege. “For the tests conducted last Monday and Tuesday, our results were 3.7 million and 5.1 million viral copies respectively.” The testing involves collecting samples at the city’s wastewater plant and then analyzing them in a laboratory for traces of COVID-19. Results of the testing, released after each weekend, offer an indication of how many people circulating in the community — including residents and visitors — may be carrying the disease. For tests done on Dec. 27 and 28, that estimate was between 16,004 and 22,873. For the prior week, the estimate was between 3,422 and 5,269. The results were released Tuesday, along with an update to the city’s case count and death totals, which showed a total of 128 new reported cases and one additional death in the city. Not since August, as the Delta variant spread, has the new case count been this high. But it is still far lower than a surge last winter that saw roughly 450 new cases reported in the city during one week in January.
DOWNTOWN FIGHT: Palm Springs police said Tuesday they are hoping to work with the owner of a restaurant and lounge in the 200 block of South Palm Canyon Drive, as well as the state Bureau of Alcohol Beverage Control, to prevent further incidents like the one that occurred early Jan. 1. According to police, a fight involving several patrons at the establishment broke out around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Every available officer in the city was asked to respond to the location. “It was reported that subjects were throwing chairs and bottles and that someone may be in possession of a firearm,” police said Tuesday. “Multiple subjects fled upon our arrival, and nobody was found in possession of a firearm.” One person was treated for a laceration, a window was shattered, and the business was forced to close an hour early. “PSPD will be meeting with the ownership of the location this week to ensure that a new security plan for the business is adhered to,” police said.
FREE PARK CONCERTS: Elton John, Madonna, and Tina Turner — or at least reasonable facsimiles of them — are coming to Palm Springs’ newest park, the city’s Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday. The acts are coming in the form of free monthly concerts, from February through July, sponsored by the Chamber, working in collaboration with James Elliott Entertainment. The performances will be held at the new Palm Springs Downtown Park on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. Kicking off the series on Wednesday, Feb. 2, will be TLR, an Eagles tribute band from Los Angeles. Other tribute groups scheduled to appear include those devoted to the music of Elton John, Madonna, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The concert series is free and open to everyone. Attendees are encouraged to bring beach chairs and blankets.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers chair yoga, a jam session, Spanish classes and more, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s classes online here.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide various medical services for residents.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a post-holiday bike ride at Mesquite Golf Course at 10 a.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on the minds of participants from 4 PM until 5 PM. The organization is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.
LIBRARY BOARD: The city’s Library Board of Trustees meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. Information on how to view the meeting can be found here.
BOOK CLUB: The OutBook Book Club will meet in the Ross Room at the Mizell Center from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. This month the book club is discussing The Man Who Ate Too Muchby John Birdsall. For more information about the club, email Hubertus Zegers at [email protected].
Need to get tested for COVID-19 but don’t know where to turn and can’t find an at-home test? The following information may help and was valid as of the time this newsletter went out.
COUNTY TESTING: To make an appointment at any of the free testing locations in Riverside County, visit this website.
PALM SPRINGS LIST: The city of Palm Springs offers this website with a list of all testing locations in the Coachella Valley, including major pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, and health clinics in the city.
AIRPORT TESTING: A drive-through only testing facility is located in the park and call lot on Kirk Douglas Way at Palm Springs International Airport, 3400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way. It is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Rapid tests begin at $149 and results are usually available within an hour. More information about the facility, as well as other facilities in the Coachella Valley, is available on this website.
TESTING TENT: A tent set up outside Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center off East Palm Canyon Drive offers free testing with no appointment required. It was featured in this story in The Post. Important note: Several residents have reported this week that the tent was not there, despite advertising hours of 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You might try calling the information number listed for the organization operating the tent at 619-372-0034 before heading to the location.
CATHEDRAL CITY KIOSK: A kiosk set up at Plaza Rio, 67908 Vista Chino in Cathedral City, is not currently taking walkups, according to this website. Last week, the walkup line for the kiosk was seen snaking throughout the entire parking lot.