OJAI VALLEY : Trash Can Deposits Anger Residents

Ojai Valley residents are raising a stink about being asked to pay $50 deposits for new trash cans.

Ojai Rubbish Service Inc. is asking its 4,100 customers in Oak View, Mira Monte, Meiners Oaks, Ojai and Casitas Springs to pay the deposits, which can be remitted in $2 installments over two years as part of the company's switch to a semi-automated trash collection system in which 95-gallon plastic receptacles will be picked up by a mechanical arm extending from the garbage truck.

A notice recently mailed by the company neglected to mention that customers are not required to have the larger cans to continue receiving collection service, said Morteza Yassini, who owns Ojai Rubbish.

Yassini said the $50 deposits, which will be refunded as each can is returned to Ojai Rubbish, protects the company against theft when a customer moves out of the service area. Yassini said he has been swamped with calls since he mailed the letters.

Several people have also complained to county Supervisor Susan K. Lacey's office, said Ed Webster, Lacey's administrative aide. But Webster said that the supervisors do not have the power to regulate rubbish companies in unincorporated areas.

However, the supervisors will consider adopting a new law later this month that would establish franchise agreements for trash collection in the unincorporated areas, said Christopher Kortz of the Solid Waste Division.

Oak View residents Joseph Rowett and Howard Goshert are among those angry about the deposits. With more than 4,000 customers, Yassini has the potential of collecting $200,000 in deposits and earning $20,000 annual interest, Rowett said. Hugh White, chairman of the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, wondered at a recent sewer board meeting who would protect him from having his new can stolen off the street. But, White said, the deposit could be an incentive for residents to remove their cans from the curb instead of leaving them out.

In Ventura, Santa Clara Valley Disposal Co. has announced that it will provide new refuse receptacles to its Fillmore customers without a deposit, a spokeswoman said.

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