Since last summer, I've noticed trash trucks running in my Northeast neighborhood as early as 3:45 am. I've complained to the city, but was merely given a vague response, so I'll ask Dr. Know: Is it legal for trash trucks to run that early? —Kane Citizen
I have gotten this question so frequently over the years that I had to look through seven years of "Dr. Know" to make sure I hadn't answered it before. (Then, of course, I had to spend several more hours sobbing over my wasted life.)
The simple answer is yes: Night garbage pickup for businesses is 100 percent legal. The children of war-torn Syria would probably tell us to count our blessings, but in denser neighborhoods it can be pretty brutal, with some residents being awakened several times a night.
Unfortunately, the obvious fix—picking up the trash of businesses during the day—would mean huge, lane-filling trucks stopping daytime traffic for three minutes every 100 yards or so.
People have complained about commercial garbage-truck noise for as long as anyone can remember. In 2001, then-Mayor Vera Katz even commissioned a report on possible solutions.
That report recommended a plan called franchising, which would have carved the city's commercial sector into zones in such a way that fewer trucks would operate in any given area.
Unfortunately, the report didn't come out till late 2004. By then, apparently, all the original complainants had died of insomnia, and the plan was never adopted for nighttime trash pickup.
But you could revive it! Call the City Council Clerk's Office at 503-823-4086 and get yourself added to the agenda. Then, just show up and bitch. (Trust me, crazier people than you do this all the time.) They have to listen to you, because democracy.
If you can bring 20 or 30 like-minded friends, you're a legitimate pain in the ass, and they might do something just to shut you up. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The future belongs to those who have nothing better to do than hang around at stultifyingly dull public meetings.