If you leave your trash cans out overnight, be prepared to get a fine. It’s part of a new ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly that aims to keep bears out of trash. 

The ordinance targets overflowing cans and dumpsters, fining people who leave their trash unsecured. It requires that people with locked bear-resistant trash containers put them out no more than 12 hours before the day of collection. Regular trash cans can only be put out the day of collection and both kinds must be taken in no later than 9 p.m. the same day.

In addition, the ordinance states: “when not set out for collection, trash containers shall be stored inside a structure or within five feet of the principal (main) structure.”

Homeowners who violate the new rules can face hefty fines: $100 for a first offense; $250 for a second offense; and $500 for a third and subsequent offenses within the same calendar year.

The ordinance also introduces something new for the municipality: secure trash regulation zones where bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters will be required. The municipality intends to identify these zones in September of each year.

Assembly member John Weddleton, who submitted the ordinance, said he’s gotten mostly positive feedback from the public.

“The vast majority [say] ‘it’s about time,'" Weddleton said. “And I have neighborhoods saying, ‘do my neighborhood first.’”

Weddleton said Girdwood will likely be the first zone where the cans will be required. He said the majority of homeowners there have them already, so the change won’t be a big one.

The ordinance states that the municipal manager or designee may recommend that the Assembly designate an area, neighborhood or specific location to be a secure trash regulation zone through resolutions.

Weddleton says he plans to introduce a resolution at the July 9 Assembly meeting and hold a public hearing the same day.

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