It's illegal to sweep fall leaves into street

A question regarding a leafy subject: It's that time of year to burn some calories by raking and bagging our leaves (and the neighbor's leaves). We notice numerous neighbors take the easy, non-calorie-burning route by blowing their leaves into the street to let the wind and passing vehicles take them away. The city street sweeper trucks steer around those areas that have a large accumulation of leaves. What is the city of Medford's stance on residential occupants and commercial landscape maintenance companies blowing significant amounts of leaves into the street?

— Gary E., Medford

Medford's stance is right in the middle of that illegal leaf pile in the street. In other words, it's officially a no-no.

The city allows bagged leaves to be placed "adjacent to the traveled portion of paved city streets" in November and December for free pickup and disposal (which is handled by Rogue Disposal).

But Municipal Code 6.525 expressly prohibits placing leaves or any other vegetation or debris in the public right of way, except as allowed for the leaf pickup, which requires the leaves to be bagged.

Beyond the fact that leaving leaves in the street eventually creates a soggy mess, the rules are intended to keep them out of storm drains, which, as the name suggests, are intended to drain storm water and prevent flooding. A big wad of leaves in the gutter could lead to a big pond in your basement if a gully washer hits.

This ordinance, however, seems to be a mystery to the many maintenance workers who wander the sidewalks of Medford blowing leaves into the gutters. Just this morning on the way to work in the Since You Asked executive limousine, we witnessed two egregious leaf-blowing acts of criminality, first by a worker on the north side of East Main Street, just east of its intersection with Crater Lake Avenue, and then by a guy blowing leaves off the sidewalk in front of the Southern Oregon Educational Service District offices on Grape Street.

Now we know what they mean when they talk about street crime.

There are a couple of other leaf-bagging rules:

  • Leaf bags shall be no more than 30 gallons in capacity, or 33-by-39 inches, and must be a minimum of 1.2-mil thick.
  • Bags of leaves placed in the public right-of-way for collection must contain leaves only.

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