This conceptual site plan shows an 18-unit development at 2026 Placentia Ave. in Costa Mesa. The Sanitary District has concerns about how a trash truck will enter and exit this 0.78-acre tract. (Courtesy CITY OF COSTA MESA / Daily Pilot / July 25, 2014)

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"We need to be in these development review committees," he added, "and we need to give the city our input before they start approving these plans."

The district then got involved with the city's internal development review committee, which has been very helpful in addressing the new needs, Carroll said.

"It's nice to be able to comment so we can work it out," Ochiqui added.

Jerry Guarracino, Costa Mesa's interim assistant director of development services, says the city is now requiring developers to present plans for trash pickup earlier in the process.

"It's certainly a larger focus for us now with these new clustered, single-family developments," he said. "In new projects this is going to be addressed in a much more comprehensive way than it may have been previously."

Apparently, "the word's gotten out," Guarracino added. Some projects are coming into City Hall already designed with trash pickup in mind.

"I think most of the developers know this is an important issue, and they want to solve it," he said. "They want to resolve it because it affects their site plan."

No developer wants housing units cut out "because they haven't really thought of the trash pickup," Guarracino said. "They're motivated to resolve the issue."

Ultimately, every developer has to make choices, he added.

"While his customers might prefer carts, he has to decide: Is it worth losing a unit or two to allow everyone to have cart service in the project?" Guarracino said. "Or does he want to pose a different solution and keep those units? We don't dictate that.

"He's got know what's more valuable in the market."

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'A lot of moving parts'

Planners say there is no one-size-fits-all solution for trash cart storage and placement for pickups.

"There are a lot of moving parts with this particular issue," Guarracino said. "There are a lot of variables on how you solve it."

The Sanitary District's representatives agree.

Developers have to figure where the carts will go on trash day. When factoring in the reach of the truck's pickup arm, the carts also can't be too close to the buildings.

"We don't want to smash a garage door and dent it as we're putting the cart back down," Ochiqui said. "That's another issue we've never looked at because it's never happened before."

Developers also have to consider that large, 30-plus-ton trash trucks will travel on a housing tract's roads — not to mention need to be able to get into and out of that development.

It would be inefficient to make multiple egresses, not to mention dangerous if the truck has to back out onto a major street, Ochiqui said.