Tree debris? Berkeley will pick it up for free

Tree debris? Berkeley will pick it up for free

Make an appointment for vegetation recording from 17.04

The Chipper Day program, now part of The city’s Fire Safe Berkeley initiative is offering free plant pickup rounds throughout the city from April through September. (Previously it was only available to residents in hilly, high-risk fire zones June through September and was housed by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront.)

“The potential for a wind-driven wildfire threatens most of the city, not just the hills,” City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley wrote in a memo about the program on Monday.

She added that the city is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1923 fire that leaped downtown from the Berkeley Hills and destroyed over 600 buildings in a matter of hours. About 1,000 people were displaced by the fire.

Credit: Berkeley Public Library

The city has sent out annual mailings about the expanded program to 8,500 households in fire-safe areas, and more mailings will be sent out across the city in the coming days.

Tree trimmings are processed into wood chips through the ecology center’s recycling program. The goal is to help residents maintain a “defensible space” around their home in the event of a wildfire.

Brendan Devlin, a consultant for the Berkeley Fire Department, said the new program will give residents more opportunities to get involved in vegetation management.

In the past, residents in fire-prone zones received a flyer twice a year about truck passages. Now they can reserve up to 10 appointments a year via the self-service portal.

But Devlin said it’s important that people only use as many dates as necessary and cancel their reservation if plans change.

“This is not a private on-demand service – this is a public program – and we’re trying to run this efficiently and intelligently and really work with the public.” Comparing the rules for children during mealtimes, he said people should “take what you want, but eat what you take”.

Berkeley’s new program is modeled after a similar program Devlin led in Marin County. This program performed 3,793 curbside pickups in 2021, and 87% of Marin County residents surveyed cited the program as a reason they were removing excess vegetation around their homes.

The chipper trucks used in the Berkeley program have a capacity of about 17 pickups, Devlin said, which is great for congestion in areas with narrow, winding roads like the Berkeley Hills.

The program’s primary purpose is to facilitate free pickup in situations where green bins are insufficient or landscaping services are too expensive for residents, but the city is also working to introduce a cost-sharing program for property owners burdened by other related expenses are for vegetation management.

Devlin said the process of participating in the new debris collection program will also improve community preparedness and strengthen neighborhood communication about fire-prone landscaping — such as combustible eucalyptus and juniper trees — through word of mouth.

“This is for people who are doing the right thing … but they’re just like, ‘Is there a way you can make this a little bit easier for us?'” Devlin said. “Rather than having to pay a gardener to remove this, the city will come and provide this service.”

Get ready

Here’s the city’s advice on preparing for a pickup:

Accepted Materials:

  • Shrubs, bushes, branches, trees, broom, cypress, eucalyptus, juniper, firewood etc.
  • Branches and firewood MUST NOT exceed 8 inches in diameter.

Not accepted:

  • Bagged or tied material of any kind. Garbage, poison oak, brambles, building materials, lumber, general garden waste, leaves, lawn clippings, bamboo roots, roots with dirt, rocks or gravel.

Stack Size:

  • Stack must not exceed 25ft (length) x 4ft (width) x 4ft (height).
  • Stacks of prohibited items, or portions of a stack larger than 25 x 4 x 4 feet, may be left behind and are the resident’s responsibility to remove.

Stack Placement:

  • Place stacks within five feet of a lane that the chipper truck can access.
  • Place stakes in a location that will not block a roadway or driveway and allow a minimum of 10 feet between the stake and a utility pole or fire hydrant.
  • Place the stakes in an unobstructed location, e.g. B. – Not behind fences, closed gates or other obstacles.