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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  • Trash Pickup Photo: Trash Pickup
  • Trash Pickup Photo: Trash Pickup

He pointed to the planning for a 16-unit live-work project at 2026 Placentia Ave., a 0.78-acre site.

The pickup arm only reaches from one side of the vehicle. Thus, it can only collect from a single side of the street, Ochiqui said.

To collect the other side, the driver would have to back out onto busy Placentia.

"That's very, very dangerous," Ochiqui said.

The compromise is the truck will turn around in Palace Avenue, which is essentially a large alley. Still, the district has concerns about the access gate onto Palace, particularly the possibility of malfunctions.

If that happens, "our truck is pretty much stuck there," Ochiqui said, adding that spotting help would probably be required to ease the truck back out.

The Placentia development had planned for communal trash and recycling bins, not individual carts, to be located at one end of the lot — which meant residents at the opposite end would have had a decent walk to dispose of refuse, Ochiqui said.

During planning of an eight-unit development at 2519 1/2 -- 2525 Santa Ana Ave., a less-than-perfect compromise was reached for the 0.7-acre lot.

On trash day, the residents will put their carts at a curb that doesn't have any houses behind it. The downside? Homes at the far end of the lot will push their carts more than 150 feet to the pickup point.

The trash truck also will be backing into the development, which isn't ideal.

"This solution is only on their trash day," Ochiqui said. "So if their trash day is on Wednesday, by Wednesday midnight, these carts must be gone and put away in everybody's homes."

If there are some straggling carts left on the curb, it's going to be hard to know whose they are, Carroll added. The carts don't necessarily have individual addresses on them.

The district wants to recommend that the project's homeowners association figure out a solution, because "that would be a nightmare on us" if the Sanitary District had to enforce the rule about not leaving trash carts out beyond trash day there, Ochiqui said.

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Commercial or residential?

The Westside Gateway project, which the council examined in June, is a case study in the complexities of trash planning.

The project at 671 W. 17th St. is larger than most new Costa Mesa developments: 9 acres, with 176 units proposed, some which are the live-work design.

As with other live-work projects, the question lingers: Will these homes use commercial-sized Dumpsters or individual carts?

"It's harder to predict what the trash generation for live-work units are going to be," Guarracino said.

If the live-work units require commercial trash service — which the Sanitary District doesn't usually provide but thinks is appropriate for Westside Gateway — the number of Dumpsters on the property and where they'll go would have to be determined.