Richmond DPW to end bulk upholstered item pick ups

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Got an old couch that you’re looking to throw away? It could soon be illegal in Richmond to leave it on the curb.

The city recently announced that it wants out of the upholstered bulk trash business.

“Number one, it’s an eyesore. Number two, there are bed bug infestations, they tend to get wet,” Bobby Vincent, Richmond’s director of Public Works said.

Vincent said upholstered items like old mattresses and sofas can be a public health risk for citizens and the city’s DPW workers.

So, DPW is planning to cut the items from its bulk pick up service, which has some residents concerned.

Kyle Warren who lives in Richmond said he’s concerned for people who can’t afford to pay to have large items removed.

“I’m just concerned for lower-income communities,” Warren said. “Just the ones who can’t afford to get U-Hauls.”

Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray doesn’t see how picking up these bulk items is any more of a health risk than picking up the trash, which DPW is responsible for.

“In a conversation with the director of public works he said there’s nothing nastier than a wet mattress,” Gray said. “If someone believes in that line of work you’re not going to come in contact with anything nasty, my advice would be that the post office is hiring.”

Earlier this year, DPW announced residents now have to bag their leaves if they want them picked up. Vincent says it’s more efficient.

“We want to be out of the leaf collection program in February,” he said.

And just this week, Mayor Levar Stoney began a program encouraging residents to be neighborly and volunteer to bag leaves for those who can’t.

But some residents are baffled by what they see as a cut in services for city residents while DPW recently got a boost in budget, two and a half million dollars more, with 100 new positions and several new trucks.

“It is very concerning and confusing as to why we would be getting less service after augmenting that budget,” Gray said.

Residents think people will still dump these items, leading to fines some residents can’t pay.

Councilwoman Gray worries about how the city will enforce it.

“Now we’re going to have the issue of couches out on the street for a while on top of the citations that are probably going to be coming for them,” Warren said.

The DPW Director sees this as an improvement in services, saying they can work more efficiently this way and keep the city cleaner. And he says it will still be free to dump these items at the city landfill.

8News has also been told there will be some neighborhood clean ups where mattresses and sofas can be disposed.

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