UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

New campus-city program helps students discard unwanted items

– As spring semester ends at the University of California, Berkeley, the campus and the city of Berkeley are launching a new effort to make sure students vacating their apartments, fraternity and sorority houses, and co-ops properly dispose of furniture, mattresses and trash — items that in previous years were left on city sidewalks.

COmmunity cleanup poster
This poster, designed by Berkeley student Adam Planas, is being displayed on and around campus as part of an effort to end sidewalk dumping by departing students.

"This is a problem in most university or college towns," said Jim Hynes, assistant to the city manager. "And it has been costly for the city to continually pick up discarded material and haul it away." This year, through the Chancellor's Task Force on Student/Neighbor Relations, the problem is being addressed by a cooperative, multi-faceted campaign, funded jointly by UC Berkeley and the city, that includes additional debris boxes, special "sweeps" by refuse trucks and a drop-off recycling center on campus.

The chancellor's task force was formed in 2005 to address problems arising between students and permanent residents in near-campus neighborhoods. It is comprised of student leaders, UC Berkeley and city of Berkeley staff, campus and city police departments, and neighborhood representatives who are working together to develop more positive neighbor relationships in the Berkeley community.

The campus has partnered with the city in the past on this issue, placing bins for unwanted items near UC Berkeley residence halls and fraternity and sorority houses as students prepared to leave campus. But the problem continued in private housing areas, prompting this more sweeping plan that now encompasses a much larger area in Berkeley neighborhoods where students rent apartments and live in cooperative housing.

The first step was to see the problem from the perspective of students as well as from their Berkeley neighbors, said Irene Hegarty, director of UC Berkeley Community Relations. "When we studied the problem, we realized that many students do not have easy ways to dispose of their surplus items, especially if they don't own a car or truck to transport furniture."

In addition, students are often busy studying for their final exams right up until the required move-out date for their apartment or campus room. "Students often don't plan ahead for move-out, and many are unaware of how or where to take large items," Hegarty said.

The campus-city plan gives students several options. Beginning in mid-May, very large debris bins will be placed for student use in areas near campus, from Oxford to Prospect streets and from Bancroft Way to Derby Street on the south side, and from Hearst Avenue to Cedar Street on the north side of campus. Trash of any size can be deposited in the bins, including furniture. Toward the end of the month, after the bins are taken away, city refuse compactor trucks will do area-wide "sweeps" to pick up any stray items.

A drop-off recycling center for UC Berkeley students will operate the last two weekends of May - May 19-20 and May 26-27 - in the North Street parking lot of the Clark Kerr campus, to collect recyclable items, nonperishable food, computer parts and small appliances, which will then be donated or recycled.

UC Berkeley is setting up a hotline at (510) 643-5309 for local residents to call if they spot items left on the sidewalks. Refuse staff from UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley will pick up reported trash within 48 hours of a report. The hotline will operate through the end of May.

A poster designed by UC Berkeley student Adam Planas with a "No Dumping" message will begin being displayed this week on and off campus. The poster shows a beat-up sofa with the message: "A sofa on the sidewalk is not lawn furniture." It was the winning design from a poster contest sponsored by the chancellor's task force's Student Leadership Committee, which includes representatives from the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, and University Student Cooperative Association.

Door hangers also will be distributed by student and neighbor volunteers to get the word out to student tenants near campus about where and how to donate, recycle or dispose of unwanted items.

The move-out campaign is funded jointly by UC Berkeley and the city with the goals of reducing waste, cleaning up Berkeley neighborhoods, and setting a precedent for future years. "We will learn through this effort what works and what needs to be improved," said Hegarty. "We also hope that students will learn they can't just leave their stuff behind."