A local non-profit organization in Lompoc is helping clean up the river bed, but over the weekend they were met with a hefty bill.
Over 26 tons of trash was picked up over the weekend by Planting A Seed and other volunteers across the city. Something that ended up costing them a little over $2,000.
The organization said after they were done cleaning they went to the landfill with the hopes that the bill would be waived but that wasn't the case, something city officials say has to do with liability concerns.
"I contacted the city of Lompoc and I sent them pictures and I asked them if they would waive the fees. we incurred the risk, we do the labor,” Planting A Seed Co-founder, Shawndel Malcolm said.
According to city officials, due to the risk factor of being down at the river bed, more needs to be done from a legal standpoint before moving forward with future cleaning efforts.
"We appreciate the work that is being done by the organization and its volunteers... unfortunately for the city we are under legal ramifications for not following rules out there that protect the homeless, that protect our citizens, the taxpayers, and that funding,” Mayor Jenelle Osborne said.
In a letter sent to the organization by the city, they stated that the organization must work with them to come to an agreement that includes an indemnification agreement if any legal or financial liabilities arising as a result of a clean-up event.
"Coming from the financial situation the city has been in recently we are starting to turn the corner. I want to make sure we continue to get back into the positive territory and the liability insurance and indemnification is just one thing that not just the city of Lompoc, any city is going to require in such a situation,” Lompoc City Manager, Jim Throop said.
According to city officials, fees requested by Planting A Seed have been waived in the past.
Planting a seed says they are planning on doing another cleanup event next week on April 24th.
"So going forward we really want to hope that when we have a clean-up effort that we can work with the City of Lompoc and say we are going to clean this area and that the city finds a way to help us out and to make it happen,” Malcolm said.
According to the organization's co-founder, they do plan on responding to the cities letter to try to work out an agreement.
The city adds they are willing to work with them to make it happen as long as it's done with caution with all who are involved.
Once the agreement is signed, staff will place the item on the city agenda where the council will discuss the request for a waiver of solid waste fees.