The Beginning of Municipal Solid Waste Management

Hog Farms and The People’s
The Beginning of Municipal Solid Waste Management
Hog Farms
As urban and suburban communities expanded so did municipal waste collection businesses.
Food wastes, were traditionally seen as supplemental animal feed. Some farms began to raise
hogs (and sometimes chickens) using food wastes as the primary feed source. These farmers
purchased food wastes (slop) from municipalities who in turn collected food scraps separately
form other solid wastes. Many restaurants themselves operated hog farms using scraps from
the restaurant as feed.
Ultimately, the City itself took over a hog ranch located in Tecolote Canyon. As the size of
these hog farms grew, nuisances associated with odors and pests became a concern. Diseases,
especially trichinosis, resulted form hog/rodent interaction.
Trash Hauling
Long after automobiles were common, trash was hauled using horses and wagons. Typically,
trash hauling was only done in urban areas where higher density made individual waste
management impractical.
Beginning in 1908, the City entered into a ten-year contract to pick-up waste from residents
and businesses. Food waste was separated by residents and sold for hog feed. At the time,
collection costs were considered high and many residents complained.
Beginning in 1912, the San Diego Rubbish Company was hired for collection and operation
of what was called the “Tidelands Dump” which was located in an estuary near in what is
now Mission Bay. Waste was placed directly into the tidelands and a wire fence was used
to control discharge of solids into the bay due to tidal action.
Many residents refused to pay and instead dumped waste into open spaces and vacant lots as
they had in the past. In addition, restaurants began hauling waste directly to hog farms to
avoid the collection fees.
In 1917, disputes about costs led to the City passing an ordinance to limiting the cost to $.050
cents per ton. The Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Hotel and Restaurant Men joined
forces asking that the City manage waste collection and disposal. In addition, the City
enacted an ordinance prohibiting non-permitted haulers from selling garbage to hog
For many, this was the last straw and felt that the City had overreached when they
prohibited private citizens from selling or transporting their own waste. Restaurant owners
in particular openly defied the City and refused to pay for garbage pickup when previously
some had been paid for their table scraps.
Rural Dumping
With the advent of vehicle transportation and increased density in farming, community
wastes were sometimes carried to common areas along roads and dumped into canyons.
These sites were usually on publicly owned land and were selected because of their
convenience and distance from homes. The waste was unmanaged and often attracted birds
and animals foraging for food.
Ocean and Bay Dumping
Throughout the Great Depression the City continued to haul waste both to sea and to the
Tidelands dump. However, during the depression the price of pork fell along with other
recyclables and no longer off-set disposal costs. As before, the City continued to dump waste
in the bay and at sea. The City also operated the Tideland dump well into the 1950’s.
1919 People’s Ordinance
Many residents, as well as restaurants, believed that solid waste management should be a
public responsibility of government. It was viewed differently than water, and later on,
electricity which residents expected to pay for. An ordinance was created and adopted that
impacts solid waste management in San Diego even today. It was called the 1919 People’s
Ordinance. It was viewed as a socialist idea which was viewed differently in 1919 perhaps
than it is today.
In 1919, during WW1 the Chairman of the Commercial War League combined with the
Hotel and Restaurant Men in closed session of the City Council. They backed the ballet
initiative named “People’s Ordinance” for free refuse collection.
In part it read:
“It shall be the duty of the Manager of Operations of the City of San Diego to gather, collect,
and dispose of all city refuse… and it shall be the duty of the Common Council of said City to
levy and collect a sufficient tax each year for the purpose of paying the cost of the collection
and disposal of said city refuse.”
The People’s Ordinance did not give specifics, but it did approve $12,500 to purchase hogs
and other necessary equipment and required waste haulers to have permits and waste
generators to separate garbage from refuse. At the time, the People’s Ordinance placed an
estimated $76,000 liability on the City.

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