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Posted on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Elimination of bulk leaf pick-up has Ann Arbor residents bagging leaves, composting this fall

By Heather Lockwood


Ann Arbor resident Caitlin Phillips rakes leaves into a pile in a corner of her lawn in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

Angela J. Cesere |

Charlotte “Kitsy” Eaton of Ann Arbor is frustrated by the city's new leaf management options.

“Nothing’s as good as the old way,” Eaton said. “What it used to be is we would rake our leaves into the street twice a year, and that was it.”

No more. With the city’s cancellation of bulk leaf pickup this year, Ann Arbor residents are left to deal with fallen leaves themselves.

In place of the semi-annual bulk leaf pick-up is weekly residential compost pick-ups through Dec. 10. And rather than put their leaves in paper bags or compost carts at the curb, residents are encouraged to mulch leaves into their yards, said Tom McMurtrie, solid waste coordinator.

The decision to cancel the bulk leaf pick-up, along with other measures, was intended to help balance the city's budget.

Eaton raked up the remaining leaves in her front yard on Monday afternoon — it would be the last time she expected to rake this season. She said she goes out for about 30 minutes at a time, taking breaks between. 

"I'm 84 years old for God's sake," she said. “I have one huge maple in the front that belongs to the city because it sits on the curb, and I have another huge maple in the back and that belongs to my neighbor."

To make matters worse, Eaton said leaves left sitting in a neighbor’s yard were blown into hers during a recent storm, adding to her workload.

Before raking Monday, Eaton estimated she had invested about six to eight hours removing leaves from her front yard this fall. A tenant who lives in her home is responsible for raking the backyard, she said.

Eaton said she recently spoke with a few neighbors who were unaware of the changes in leaf removal and had been planning to rake their leaves into the street as usual until she told them otherwise.

While residents are responsible for the leaves in their yards, leaves that naturally fall into the streets are to be taken care of by street sweeping efforts. But piles of leaves left in the streets will not be removed.

McMurtrie said he's received mixed reactions from residents about the changes.

“I’ve received a variety of feedback. There are some people who don’t like the new system. … I’ve also had some people say they find it more convenient because they can put the materials out on a weekly basis,” he said.

McMurtrie said residents who don't mulch their leaves at home have two options for pick-up — put the leaves at the curb in a wheeled compost cart, available for $50 at the Ann Arbor Customer Service Center, 220 E. Huron St., or put them in paper bags, which can be bought at home improvement stores. They also can drop leaves off at the Compost Center, 4150 Platt Road, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Eaton noted an unexpected problem with the bags — she saw several paper bags full of leaves that had been left on curbs and split open after being soaked by rain, spilling their contents back onto the ground.

Caitlin Phillips of Ann Arbor said the leaves that have fallen into her yard this season from the maple and elm trees that line her street have filled more than 200 bags.

"I live in, literally, one of the most tree-lined streets in town," Phillips said. "It's been an interesting fall without the pickup."

Phillips estimated she has spent at least 35 hours raking and bagging leaves this fall — and her work isn't done yet.

Nor is it limited to her own yard.

Phillips said the young and able in her neighborhood have raked and bagged leaves from the yards of those who are unable to do so.

"The able neighbors on the street are helping those who are not able every other day," she said.

And, Phillips said, she and her neighbors are constantly forced to pull leaves from storm drains.

John Dugan of Ann Arbor said while he somewhat prefers the old system, he's neutral on the issue.

"I don't think it's a get-out-and-demonstrate issue," Dugan said. "From the leaf-raker's point of view, it's a little more inconvenient."

Dugan said he rakes his own leaves and composted some of them. He said he relied on the one compost container he received free from the city and had to buy several paper bags to hold the rest of his leaves.

"We were a little bit concerned because we had to use bags — we were not able to handle all the leaves with the cart — so that was an inconvenience. A little bit extra cost," he said.

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 8, the city collected 5,791 tons of yard waste and leaves, down from 6,294 tons collected during the same time last year, McMurtrie said. And the difference could be due, in part, to more people mulching leaves at home. But leaf and grass production varies year-to-year, which also could be a factor, he said.

Phillips said she plans to avoid the hassle next year by composting all of her leaves at home.

"We're just going to have to find a new solution," she said.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.



Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

Go Blue, actually Ypsi taxes are MUCH higher than Ann Arbor's

Go Blue

Sun, Dec 5, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

"all other cities do it, so stop whining." I retort that they do not pay the same taxes I do. I expect more for paying more taxes, not the same things as people in other cities who pay less taxes." In a nutshell, there you have it. Why should a city that has some of the highest taxes around reduce services to compare to a city with a much more affordable tax base? Cut services - no problem IF you cut taxes appropriately. Otherwise, building up a glorious shrine to government at the cost of its citizens is just not acceptable. Vote people, VOTE. Or it will be take, take, take and higher taxes for less.


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

@jcj "Always told it will start a car fire if you park near or over em." Ever seen a car fire started this way? Me either I've never seen an elephant fly! Seen a horse fly, even seen a house fly, ever see a dragon fly? Don't believe everything that you hear? Our cart holds approximately 3 bags. Even putting the cart out each week we went through over 40 bags. Maybe just leave them in the street and let the non existent street sweeper get them next year? Why not just burn them at the curb as we used to? Probably less harmful emissions than the weekly pickup trucks!


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

Those of you who voted for the incumbent mayor and councilmembers have only yourselves to blame for this. They told us that they were going to do this last spring, and you re-elected them. You get the government that you deserve. I could rarely get my leaves out into the street for the scheduled pickup. My trees stubbornly refused to drop according to the city's pickup schedule.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

personally, i've just been mulching, instead of bitching. come spring, i'll be laughing... when my lawn is healthy, beautiful, and green!


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Rack up another reason why Ann Arbor is number 1 in the state.Higher taxes and less services should be the next campaigning motto, vote Democrapts.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

ypsi livin, No retort to my economic analysis? Maybe you should broaden your horizons before you comment on issues (such as economic analysis), and read the whole post (you and YOUR TAXES.)


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

Deb, Just like you, I'm entitled to voice my opinion. Unlike many commenters on this site, I actually support with my dollars, but I don't disparage those who don't buy the paper, yet still use the site. I may not agree with someone else's opinion, but I respect others' rights to have and express their own opinions on all of the subjects covered on the site without using residency as a filter of their validity or worthiness. To say that Ann Arbor's policy of allowing residents to put their leaves in the street doesn't affect me is misguided. I drive on Ann Arbor streets daily, and in late fall, wet rotten leaves that have jammed up the storm drains don't make for a good, safe driving surface. The things that happen in Ann Arbor tend to affect all of us in Washtenaw County. To adopt such an insular view of Ann Arbor is as silly as the "8 Mile" division that separates Detroit from the rest of Southeastern Michigan. Broaden your horizons a bit and realize that you (and the rest of Ann Arbor) are part of a bigger picture.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Also ypsi livin, i have to question your voice on ann arbor policies. I would guess from your name, you do not live in Ann Arbor. I am glad that much like our city council who took time to comment on Arizona's immigration reform, you have taken time to comment on something that apparently dose not affect you and where your taxes go.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

ypsi livin, In order to calculate the economic costs, the time of all parties must be taken into account. If it takes me more time to rake leaves, the economic cost is raised. Also, the city has hired extra crews and rented trucks to deal with the increased workload. So have they saved any money from not running the old service? "The economic analysis of the issue is limited only to what each method of leaf disposal costs the city" REALLY????? I guess that would be true if you did not care about how the decision would affect the residents of the city. A true economic analysis must take into account all factors, not just one side. Have you ever heard the phrase "true economic impact of the program?" The question is what is the TRUE cost to the residents of this city, not just the cost to the city.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:23 p.m.

Deb, The city is still willing to haul away your leaves; you just need to put them in bags or bins instead of putting them in the street because bagging is cheaper (for the city) than hiring the trucks, front loaders and crews of people. The economic analysis of the issue is limited only to what each method of leaf disposal costs the city. How much your employer charges and what you make per hour is absolutely irrelevant because no one gets paid to perform yard maintenance on his/her own home. If you're lamenting the fact that you could be at work instead of raking leaves, by all means, go to work and let the leaves fall where they may. The city doesn't require you to rake your leaves, but if you ARE going to rake your leaves AND you want the city to get rid of them for you, you'll need to package them according to the city's directions.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

The poll asks, "What are you doing with your leaves now?" * I'm mulching leaves in my yard. * I'm using a composting cart. * I'm using paper bags. * I'm taking them to the compost center. But the poll only allows 1 answer! In my family, we do 3 out of the 4. 2 other thoughts: 1) In the past I disliked driving in Ann Arbor neighborhoods around leaf pick-up time because some people put their leaves 1/2 way into the street, or worse, people would put all kinds of weird stuff into the leaf piles: old jack-o-lanterns, the remainders of vegetable and flower gardens, and tree branches. I always feared what I might run over if I was forced to drive into even the very edge of a pile of leaves. 2) The bike lanes should be kept as clear as possible, for safety and courtesy to bikers. Stadium's new bike lanes might not be used much right now but the project was only just completed about 2 weeks ago (and it's getting a little cold for bike riding). It will take some time for people to start using the new bike lanes, but I believe people will increasingly use them, especially in the spring and summer. The bike lanes on Packard are used by many, many bikers, especially at "rush hour" times.

David Frye

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:28 p.m.

I wish you had put in "I love it!" as an option on the first poll. I stopped raking leaves into the street a couple of years ago as an experiment, just to see what would happen if I left them on the lawn. Surprise: they look a little ratty in the winter, but by early spring they simply melt into the ground. Who invented this habit of raking leaves, anyway? What purpose is it supposed to serve? Just leave 'em where they land, people! Your lawns will thank you. And in the meantime, the streets are much, much cleaner without the awful mounds of moldering leaves that used to festoon them for weeks on end.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:46 p.m.

The only way A2 is going to pay for all this stuff is to have a city payroll tax on everyone who works in town -- that is the only way to indirectly tax the U


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:05 p.m.

@Tracy Johnson "I also have to laugh at everyone who complains about neighbors' leaves blowing into their yard. I suppose all leaves from your own trees stay put?" For your information MY leaves get picked up on a regular basis. So I AM raking my lazy neighbors leaves! @ Andy Jacobs "If you put your leaves in the street its littering. Enjoy your fines and they will be easy to assess since the leaves will be out in front of your property." Really? Have you ever seen anything on the Ann Arbor web site indicating there would be ANY consequences if someone does not pick up their leaves?? If you have would you kindly post the link to where you saw that information? Have you ever heard of ANY ONE being fined in Ann Arbor for littering?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:06 p.m.

If you put your leaves in the street its littering. Enjoy your fines and they will be easy to assess since the leaves will be out in front of your property. Every other year when there was pickup you'd see people getting leaves out late which would become a mess for months or park cars nearby so the crews couldn't get to the piles, etc. Getting rid of this program is a great idea, take care of the mess your property makes already! Compost or mulch it for cryin' out loud. Boo frikkity hoo, the City doesn't have the funds and the citizens don't want to raise taxes. Guess what? Programs get CUT and this is a greener and better solution anyway.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:49 p.m.

@Emily "All cities and towns, except Ann Arbor, make their residents either compost or put leaves into paper bags" Now Ann Arbor does this. Oh wait if I choose to pile my leaves in the street and leave them to go down the drain or where ever. WHAT are they going to do about it? Nothing!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

if you like it or not, remember the city told us they were eliminating the service and replacing it this way to SAVE MONEY. However, as it was already mentioned, we have hired additional staff and rented additonal trucks to pick up the leaves. I would like to know if any money was saved at all. Also the economic impact is not just limited to the pick up process. The time and money spent on bag should also be factored in. It took me somewhere between 3-7x longer this year to finish my leaves, and i spent about $15 dollars on the bags. At my most recent job, the company I worked for billed out at $125/per hour for my time. I averaged about $30 per hour take home, and was able to work as much as I wanted. Even at just $8/hour this program cost me $40 at minimum. Add the costs of other citizens time, the rental pickup truck, and extra crews up, then take that number minus what citizens time, expenses and the cities cost for picking up the leaves last year and maybe we have a realistic number of what the economic impact of this policy was. I would guess that when taking all/most factors into account this program is much more expensive this year then last year. Additionally, to the people that say, "all other cities do it, so stop whining." I retort that they do not pay the same taxes I do. I expect more for paying more taxes, not the same things as people in other cities who pay less taxes.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

Are we serious here? All cities and towns, except Ann Arbor, make their residents either compost or put leaves into paper bags. Why the big hoopla??


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

@ypsilivin Read my post again. You might notice I agreed that this can start a fire. I pick up my leaves!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

BUT the City has sent street cleaning machines to my neighborhood at least three times this fall. How much did it cost the City to do that?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

I agree with @foobar417 regarding the bike lanes. It's been safer biking around town. However, like others in Tree Town, I have several large trees in my yard. Raking and bagging was both time consuming and expensive. I ended up spending around $30 for bags and several more dollars on gas for my lawn mower. Personally, I would have preferred contributing some of the money spent on bags and gas towards curbside pickup. Yeah, we pay high taxes, but how much extra would it cost to retain this service?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

b/c of allergies I do not cut my own grass, I have a lawn service and b/c of this I have them do "fall clean up", they literally ride a mower around the yard and svacuum up the leaves, they do this on two seperate visits and charge me $60 total for both visits, they get the job done in less than an hour time. It would take me a least six hours and I would fill at least 20 bags, bags would cost me $10ish from $60 equals $50/6 hours = $8 and change for my time per hour which translate into a reasonable expense to not have to do it myself/freeze my butt off/hurt my back. additionally, many neighbors in a row that hire the same service to do this would probably get a multi discount rate, so it pays to "go in" with your neighbors. I did this with neighbors when we had to redo sidewalk squares. That being said I think with the taxes people have to pay in this city that the city should find other things to cut then leaf pickup (in treetown no less) perhaps less public art. Perhaps 1/2% to public art and 1/2% for leaf pickup


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 2:32 p.m. have a medical card for that joint problem? get the card and raking leaves may be fun!

Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

If you don't like what is happening to Ann Arbor from leaf pick up to the new city hall building then join a party or run as an independent and stop voting for the same old Democrat clique.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:59 p.m.

Times are tight people. You have half the Police dept and half of the Fire department you used to have. You have to pay extra for stuff and no one comes and takes care of the the leaves from the trees in your own yard. Property values have dropped which means taxes have dropped and you are now getting less service. Oh and don't forget Frasers Tajmahal that cost a pretty penny.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

Stopping the leaf pickup cost me over $100 so far because of my lawn service having to take care of them. I think it would have been more economical to continue the leaf pickup and bill us the extra. This has been quite a burden. I cannot rake the leaves due to joint problems. Please change this policy.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:21 p.m.

A2jo, Hold your fire! I don't think curbside leaf collection was eliminated for the benefit of bicyclists. I think it was eliminated to balance the city budget, or maybe to offset the cost of converting to single-stream recycling.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

Bring Leaf Pickup back! Its UNSAFE to ride bikes in the city! Bike lanes were put in to cut down auto speed and decrease lanes to facilitate moving Automobile traffic -- not to please the late season, riding in the dark with insufficient lighting bike fanatics! This is TREE CITY REMEMBER!!!!!

Atticus F.

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

crayzee, I dont know what your yard is like, but I can tell you it's a big pain in the but bending over, scooping up the leaves, and then trying to fit them into a little paper bag that keeps folding shut...It took my personally twice as long to rake my yard as in the past! Also, could someone explain how sending a leaf pick up truck once per week is going to cost less than sending one out twice per year?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:55 p.m.

jcj, Car fires can and do happen when vehicles park on top of combustibles like dry leaves. Putting leaves in the street might be convenient, but that doesn't make it a good idea. I drive through Ann Arbor every day and my car has actually skidded on the accretion in the streets in late November, which seals the storm drains and then freezes into a disgusting, rotten mess. Good riddance to the leaf pickup in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:49 p.m.

Totally agree with Tracy Johnson. In the past I probably put 10 hours every fall raking leaves. Now it takes me exactly the same 10 hours, plus an extra 20-30 minutes to put them in bags. I fail to understand the fuss.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

@Tracy Johnson as an older person with physical issues it is much easier for me to blow leaves from many large oak trees into the street 1 time than to fill up hundreds of paper bags or fill a cart every week, or mow for 2 hours every week from September to December.

Atticus F.

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

Hope you enjoy it, you voted for it! This is exactly why I voted against Heiftje last primary election... I'm sick of these stupid desicions being made by city council and the mayor. Narrowing of main roads to make room for Bike lanes that dont get used, The ymca fiasco, millions on a new city hall, underground parking that cost 10x to build than above ground, new parking rates and new meters that cheat people out of money, ect.. the list goes on and on. I did not vote for Heiftje last election because I made a list of all of the bungling decisions he made...However, the people who did vote for him are getting exactly what they deserve.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

@Maud it was not voted on. It was decided without any taxpayer/citizen input (business as usual)

Tracy Johnson

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

On this point: "Some people have large yards with lots of trees, some small with just a few bags worth. Some of us are older and unable to rake and bag like the nice younger people who even have extra energy to help out their neighbors. When the city did it, everyone was treated more equally." Come on people: the city DID NOT do the work for you. They picked up the leaves from the street. They didn't send crews to rake your yard or pull the leaves to the curb. You were still responsible for getting the leaves there - whether you had 1 tree or 100, young or old. THAT DID NOT CHANGE. What did change is now you have MORE opportunities for pickup, not just two random days! I also have to laugh at everyone who complains about neighbors' leaves blowing into their yard. I suppose all leaves from your own trees stay put?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

I am really happy that the city isn't doing leaf pick-up anymore. The parking is better, and leaves aren't forever laying in the street. For all of those who are complaining about leaf pick-up, its not like you weren't raking the same leaves last year. Hearing complaints about the hours of raking leaves isn't really a change. As for bagging leaves, rake the leaves into the street and pay your teenage neighbor $20 to bag them for you. All of this just seems like a lot of whining to me, and frankly, I would have likes to see a poll about people who are happy about not having leaves strewn in the streets for 2 months.

Jenna Thom

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

@maud people who live in condos pay the same taxes as single family homes and have never had their leaves picked up. They have to hire someone to do it for them which is paid for through their association fees. Also, my understanding is that people who live on main roads such as stadium or washtenaw have always had to bag their own leaves anyway. The simple fact that the leaves don't sit in the street for weeks on end is reason for me to support this. The streets look so much cleaner this year.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

@Tracy Johnson Carts were never free, they were $25.00 at certain times & if you missed those sales, the cost is $50.00. Area stores ran out of the paper bags,in case you didn't notice. A funded by taxes service now costs us taxpayers extra.

Tracy Johnson

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

The print headline of this article "Responsibility falls on residents" is completely misleading. Responsibility has ALWAYS fallen on residents. The difference is that now, instead of two random dates that might not even correspond to when leaves fall in your neighborhood, you get WEEKLY leaf pickup! It's cheaper for the city, more efficient, better for the river and the environment overall, safer for travel in the streets - why all the complaints? Oh, that's right: "It's different, it must be wrong." To the people complaining about buying bags: you should have gotten a compost cart delivered for free when the city first offered them. On the first poll: Why didn't you provide an option of "Weekly leaf pickup is far more convenient"? Clear bias showing in those choices!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

Anyone want to figure the cost of all of the bags for leaves? Cash cow for the AA merchants. Mulching? Run out. Buy a stinkpot mower and polute the neighborhood with lots of noise and fumes. No one who lives in an apartment or condo should be allowed to vote on abolishing leaf pickup - unless they are willing to take care of the yards of those who are elderly. How about taking responsibility for 10 yards for everyone in the Ann Arbor city Gov. who voted or recommended this.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

I think its unfortunate for the amount of taxes we pay to live in this City to have to bore the brunt of the City's budget problems. I am a physically healthy person and every year I rake my leaves, I compost what I can, and in the past, I've not had any problems with raking. However, this year, I must have raked leave at least 10 times. The last time I dumped the leaves in my compost bin, they were so packed in that the collector left half of them in the bin. I observed that he tried several times to jiggle them all out but could not. My neighbor let his left his leaves in his years so as the wind blew, I got his leaves in my yard. It bothers me when I go to City Hall to access service and speak to a customer service representative who either is too busy doing whatever on their computer or who respond to me as though I am a bother to them. Perhaps it would not bother taxpayers so much when the city cut services in consideration of budget issues if City employees displayed a positive attitude toward us. Regardless of whether employees get raises or not, they still have a job with benefits (very good ones too).


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : noon

When the change was announced I didn't read it all...and didn't listen to my neighbor's griping. So, imagine my surprise when, after building a huge pile in my backyardand setting the leaves on fireall my busybody neighbors came running over yelling No, No, Stop, Stop! (Though some of the kids brought hot dogs) Jeepers, another example of Ann Arbor taking all the fun out of life!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

Well, the annual leaf pickup by the city WAS the most environmentally responsible "GREEN" option. Based on the many posts, people have developed alternative methods to picking up leafs. Yet, many are also planning on cutting down their trees which means we may end looking a lot like Canton if this continues. Maybe U of M could chip in for leaf pick up city wide?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:37 a.m.

"Suffering" is paying $12k per year in property tax and not seeing much in return.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

@PaulW, not yet... so far just Xmas trees.

paul wiener

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:22 a.m.

It's hard to imagine a more problematic solution to leaf pickup in the City of Trees than the new plan. I live in Long Island, NY and expect to move to A2 next year. Everyone here bags their leaves in plastic. Many homes here have many trees on their property. Raking is backbreaking, awful work, is unhealthy, can seem endless, and takes hours. Most people contract the job out to lawn services, whose immigrant workers leaf-blow entire yards for hours into big compacters - for big bucks. No one would dream of composting. The proposed solution will be a physical or financial burden to most older people. The mind-shattering sound of leaf blowers will start to dominate the fall months. Composting takes time, commitment and maintenance; who wants that job? The quality of bags can be improved or changed - though bagging is an even worse chore than raking. Driving piles or bags of leaves to a town facility is ridiculous, a waste of gas and a displacement of nature. Placing them curbside in a "special" cart makes about as much sense as gift-wrapping garbage. If the town doesn't want to sweep leaves raked into the street, leave them there. Nature will take care of them, and no one will be to blame. What's next: driving your garbage to the dump twice a week?

Ace Ventura

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

I would bet that most of the people complaining here walked into the voting booth and voted the straight democratic ticket. You reap what you sow. Hahaaaa!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:04 a.m.

"This is not the end of the world. If you don't want to rake leaves than buy a condo. Raking leaves (and snow shoveling) is part of the responsibility of owning a house" Who said anything about not raking or shoveling? I've been raking my leaves for years, it's just way more trouble now. From my perspective I'm a taxpayer who has lost a valuable city service with little justification.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

Bright side? New businesses in leaf removal will pop up all over the city!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

The folks who like composting & mulching can continue to do so, no one was forced to put the leaves in the street. Why try to make me pay for a service that was included in my exhorbitant taxes unless my taxes could be lowered to cover the new additional cost. This year's policy is really terrible for older people & people with physical issues. And it's terrible for people with limited incomes, not everyone is rolling in dough in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:41 a.m.

Heather, When will actual numbers of how much money was spent this year on compost pick-up staff/ workers comp injuries/truck rental costs by the city be available?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

Andy and Zeeba: I completely agree. Been mulching for years now; MUCH easier, quicker than raking, and cheaper (less time) if you need to hire someone. Mulching mowers are the greatest. That being said, I do think this new "leaf management" scheme is ill-considered overall...too dismissive of seniors and physically challenged who can't readily afford outside help. And the street sweepers will still come through for the (almost poetic!) "naturally fallen"? Sigh.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

because of this, the pile of leaves and burnables are HUGE, from more people dumping, on my property west of ann arbor. with the huge amount of leaves, hundreds of garbage bags, lots of cardboard, construction scraps, brush, and broken pallets, gonna be a big fire this weekend when i touch it off.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

I love the "leaf management program" -- this is the City saying it's program is for us to manage the leaves. I do not believe there will be any savings from this change due to the labor and equipment required to pick up bags and carts of leaves. I wonder if the workers prefer to heft all those bags or moss the good old days of letting the heavy equipment do the work? My guess is that it sure was easier on their backs before! As for what other cities do, I remember being at my great Aunt's home in Wausau, WI, more than 30 years ago and seeing the huge pile of leaves on part of her 20 acres. Wausau collected their leaves as we used to do and she allowed them to dump a good portion of them on part of her property. She also had two enormous gardens with the blackest, loosest soil I have ever worked. I wonder if we ever asked any of those farmers whose development rights we purchased as a green belt if they would like some leaves?

rusty shackelford

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

I don't really mind this so much, but what pisses me off (and is quite dangerous) is how the city never plows the roads.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

In my yard I have a maple, a couple of oaks and black walnuts, a shagbark hickory, several ironwoods, a basswood, let's see, I guess that's about it. Previously, I would rake/blow the leaves onto large plastic tarps and pull (very heavy) into the front yard and to the curb. I didn't look forward to this task and would try to entice, cajole, and promise meals to family members to help...usually did it myself! This year, I decided to try mowing the buggers down. Til the end of November, I mowed my yard every week just like during the grass growing season. Because I didn't let the leaves pile up, they were easy to grind up (I don't have a mulching mower) and I even bagged some to put in my garden. It was so much easier (on my back) this year doing it that way! And less time consuming; it took no longer to mow than it usually does. What a relief after all those awful years of raking and hauling!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Yeah, but try mowing your Xmas tree for composting. There's no curbside pick-up of trees this "year" (Jan. 2011) is my understanding from the Waste Watcher. would you verify? Thanks.

Mark Nielsen

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

The biggest problem with this new "leaf management program" is that its inequitable. Some people have large yards with lots of trees, some small with just a few bags worth. Some of us are older and unable to rake and bag like the nice younger people who even have extra energy to help out their neighbors. When the city did it, everyone was treated more equally. We already employed many of the options due to the huge amount of leaves that end up on our property, mostly from nearby properties or city owned land. We end up with a pile 4' deep, 6' wide and 250 feet long. And that's after mulching and filling 30 to 50 bags. We were willing to take care of this when the city helped out, but now our only option is to cut down as many trees as we can afford to. What really irks us is the cities claim that less leaf material will end up in the river with this new program. There are more leaves in the street now than there were in past years after the pickup.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

@jns131 "Always told it will start a car fire if you park near or over em." Ever seen a car fire started this way? Me either! But I agree that it can happen. Just don't believe everything you hear! I have no problem picking up my leaves. But I despise the lazy bums that refuse to pick up theirs and let them blow into the neighbors yards! They are no better than the scum that walk their doggie at night so they don't have to be seen leaving the waste!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

Anybody complaining about the added pollution from the extra mowing needed to mulch the leaves must have never seen the huge trucks and all the little bobcats that go up and down the street getting 3mpg and belching smoke to pick up the leaves.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

My reaction is not mixed at all - I highly object to the end of leaf pickup. Granted I live in one of the most heavily forested neighborhoods in AA. All the reasons stated on the city website to end the pickup lack substance in the real world. This was done for one reason only - to save the city money and put the cost back on taxpayers. The cost in my neighborhood for homeowners to hire this out averaged about $200. So most declined. As a result, most of leaves remained in the streets piling up naturally - which will impact the storm sewers this winter I suspect and back them up. Costing the City greatly to unclog them. And for the promised City street sweeping machines in the Fall to remove the "naturally falling" leaves in the street - surprise, surprise, nowhere to be found!

Mark Nielsen

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

The biggest problem with this new "leaf management program" is that its inequitable. Some people have large yards with lots of trees, some small with just a few bags worth. Some of us are older and unable to rake and bag like the nice younger people who even have extra energy to help out their neighbors. When the city did it, everyone was treated more equally. We already employed many of the options due to the huge amount of leaves that end up on our property, mostly from nearby properties or city owned land. We end up with a pile 4' deep, 6' wide and 250 feet long. And that's after mulching and filling 30 to 50 bags. We were willing to take care of this when the city helped out, but now our only option is to cut down as many trees as we can afford to. What really irks us is the cities claim that less leaf material will end up in the river with this new program. There are more leaves in the street now than there were in past years after the pickup.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

Fill up the lawn mower and start mowing em over. We do this every year. As soon as they start to fall, you mow the first layer and so on. Going to have a nice lawn come May. I never did like leaves in the street anyways. Always told it will start a car fire if you park near or over em. This is good to hear.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10 a.m.

How could somebody not know? It's been in the Observer,, notices were sent in the mail, etc. I saw MANY streets get `missed' for pickup because cars were parked on top of the piles. Then the city had to put signs up and have no parking on the streets to get them picked up. The timings for the street pickup were always off/delayed and not timely. then it would snow, and the snow plows would plow a mix of leaves and snow. Those same people that are talking about having to bag the stuff - what's the difference between MOVING all the leaves to the street vs. putting them in a bag? easier....


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

I am a senior citizen and am completely happy with the city's current plan for using composting bins. They are handy when I rake leaves. I just take the bin TO the piles I've created in the yards, dumping the leaves into the bin, without having to rake them ALL THE WAY to the curb. Also, I use my lawn mower with the bag attached, and easily dump the leaves into the bin. Once the leaves are safely tucked away in the bin, with the lid closed, I never worry that they will get wet. And once a week I can easily move my 2 bins to the curb. Thank you, city of Ann Arbor, for lessening my annual work load!!!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

Those who are wondering what's next, the answer is no Xmas tree pickup, that what. And yes, 1BlockRadius, I share your disappointment but where were you during this last election? This is just more of the same - our curbside services are going in the wrong direction.

Jenna Thom

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

Whine, whine, whine.... haven't you people ever lived anywhere else? The rest of the world outside Ann Arbor bags their own leaves and have dealt with all the issues about seniors, apathetic homeowners etc. This is not the end of the world. If you don't want to rake leaves than buy a condo. Raking leaves (and snow shoveling) is part of the responsibility of owning a house.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

@a2roots, that money is probably in the pockets of the council's buddies building the Liberty Lot.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

@bluenever...Apparently you need a civics and history lesson. Ann Arbor has collected leaves for decades. This cost was funded by the general fund which is funded by all of the over taxed taxpayers in Ann Arbor. This service has gone bye bye because our council deemed other initiatives to be of more importance. That of course is the debate. It would seem to be quite apparent from the comments that the cost benefit of collecting leaves was not thoroughly thought out. By the way where did the money that was once allocated to this task get reallocated to?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

My bagging lawnmower sure did a great job picking up leaves. First time I've ever used the bagging option. The size of the full bag was easy to pick up and dump into my compost cart. The grass needed to be mowed anyway.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

Ypsi has been doing this for 2-3 years now. As someone who has two 40 year old large maples in their backyard, I wasn't looking forward to it but it has turned out to be not as bad as I thought. Also, us neighbors band together to help the elderly people that live in our vicinity. It makes for a great neighborhood spirit. You should try it sometime. Also, only in Ann Arbor would someone be raking in a sweater dress and snakeskin boots. Love that picture!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Ann Arbor is truly the MOST environmentally unfriendly city in the US. We will only tolerate "green ideas" as long as they do not interfere with our right to guzzle gas, pollute and waste resources. Hey people, if you will not take care of the leaves, cut down those evil trees, problem solved. If the majority of trees in Ann Arbor were gone, very few leaves, sticks, branches, birds, sap and other irritants would exist. Oh, my bad, people want the snow removed from their drives, sidewalks and streets (for free) also. Darn Nature!!!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

The poll should have asked how many are: 1)not raking 2)raking them into the street and leaving them 3)counting on them to blow into the neighbors yard and let them take care of them "McMurtrie said residents who don't mulch their leaves at home have two options" How naive! I just outlined 3 more options! This poll makes the wrong assumption that everyone will do something! And exactly what is the remedy when you have lazy neighbors that will not rake OR leave a pile in the street? Has the city thought far enough ahead to address that? I am now in the process of contacting the owners of the rentals in our neighborhood to try to shame them into doing something. If I have no luck I will post their names!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

lots of my friends load up their leaves and dump them in a specific area on property i own just west of ann arbor. when the weather permits, i pile up the leaves with my tractor and burn them along with all the cardboard, junk mail, newspapers, tree branches, etc.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

All of this outrage may cause the council members to leaf office.

Jim Clarkson

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

Whats next, no more snow removal ( not that they do such a great job anyways ). e have a huge new city hall with a $500,000.00 fountain and $100,000.00 worth of new furniture but we have to watch the budget. Having some of the highest property taxes in the State I am seriously begining to wonder where all the money goes.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

What about the pollution caused by mowing the leaves? I tried mowing my leaves once this leaf season and instead of my usual running the mower for 45-60 minutes to cut the grass in the yard, I had to mow for over 2 hours to do the yard with only a thin layer of leaves & that is one time only, I would have had to mow weekly at 2 hrs stretches, if mowing was my option.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

I've been mulching ever since I bought my house, which has about 15 large trees on a one-acre yard. It's a lot faster and easier than raking, it's better for my lawn and I don't have to burn them or have anyone haul them away. I had about a 4" layer of leaves on my front yard this fall and they all shredded down to practically nothing after two passes over them.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

re the advice of:"Run over them with your mulching mower" that works for maples,or maybe a few trees. not when you have many large oak trees. I will be getting quotes on having most of my trees removed, thanks to this policy change.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.

I'm glad the leaves are no longer in the street. People raked them into the street and narrowed two lanes into one lane which was dangerous for cars, runners, bikers, etc... Also, there is no need to rake leaves. Keep mowing your grass even through November and the leaves will get all nice and ground up. Problem solved.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

The new euphemistically named "leaf management" program is a pretty obvious failure (sorry bike people - it's "Tree Town", not "Bike Town"). It'll probably save every bit as much money as the similarly brilliant "turn off the streetlights" program did. I urge everyone to write their councilpersons and let them know that we tried their "experiment", it failed abysmally, and we're ready to have a "real" leaf pickup again.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

I'll bet there wll be no savings since extra workers had to be hired & trucks rented to pick up the extra bags and more workers comp. cases since there is more opportunity for worker injury. Plus the cost of flooding & sewer backups. Can you look into these costs? It has been a disaster in my neighborhood, my elderly neighbors have spent money they needed for living expenses on clean-up. The city is not cleaning the streets where many leaves have fallen. Why not give us a tax break so we can hire someone to clean up? Or give us some free bags or give us extra carts, or sell carts for $25, not $50. make it easier for us, not more difficult. Instead of dealing with leaves 1x - blowing into the street, I had to spend hours every week! The "informational session" the city had about leaf management at Wheeler Park was a joke- they gave the free mulching mower to a homeless city resident, not to a city taxpayer. Now there's a story you missed!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

How much money did the city save by eliminating the leaf pick-up? What if everyone who paid someone to clean up the leaves, bought bags or a compost cart gave that money to the city to reinstate the pick-up? Just a thought!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

I wouldn't be so annoyed with this move if the compost truck wouldn't refuse to pick up the bin if the lid isn't completely shut.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

Yes, in Tree Town it's all about convenience for bikes. Too many leaves for me to handle (it would take 50 bags at least), so I'm just letting them cover my once beautiful backyard. At least I don't have to mow anymore.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

I could care less about the bike lanes. Leaf pick up was something tangible the Ann Arbor taxpayer could see and benefit from. I have driven our new stretch of Stadium Blvd at least 100 times at all hours of the day and night and have yet to see a bike. We count cars so how about counting bikes on our overused (haha) bike lanes. But why complain, the 10 bike riders in town seem to get their way. Bring leaf pick up back.....


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:16 a.m.

I cut all my large trees down years ago and found it was easier and safer. Keep smaller trees and verities of plants that absorb a higher level of carbon dioxide. Evergreens and small trees are less likely to damage underground pipes and foundations. Its not vary often someone is killed in this state by an evergreen. Leaves sent to me by others, make excellent soil for your flowers and small trees.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Hi people. Run over them with your mulching mower. Start early so they don't get to heavy and it works great! I stopped bagging/hauling/fires a few years ago and this method works fine and saves alot of time.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

I often wondered if any fires were started by cars parking on piles of dry leaves.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

I'm finally glad to see that the city of Ann Arbor has decided against OVER-REACHING BIG GOVERNMENT SPENDING. True patriots know that this country was founded on hard work and sweat, not entitlement. People aren't going to do the work for you! #Sarcasm. Sorry couldn't help myself. And as someone who rides their bike, even now, it's nice to see the Bike lanes (which I use) not covered :-D

Joel A. Levitt

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

How much has this very irritating change saved?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

Oh, yeah, @foobar, I thought you were being sarcastic. Totally agree.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

Before cutting bulk leaf pick up it would have been wise for the city to review the city's demographics. I say this in lieu of the growing baby boomer population and senior citizens that do not have the physical prowess to dispose of leafs themselves, but have relied on Ann Arbor's convenient bulk leaf pick up. Countless of my elderly neighbors can simply not comply with the new mandate and so we have leafs blowing every which way and they never get bagged, composted, or picked up. I DO NOT BLAME my elderly neighbors, but I blame the city for once again acting without thinking. Especially in a city that gets its namesake from the wonderful trees. What a shame.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

As a senior on a fixed income I have 5 large Maple trees on my property and this year was faced with paying someone to haul them away after paying some of the highest taxes in the state.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

Too many typos. Trying again... Perhaps the article and the poll could include an entirely different take: As a bike commuter, I'm thrilled that the bike lanes are NOT filled with leaves this fall. It's a lot safer for everyone with bike lanes not used as leaf dumps.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

On my street people did not rake their leaves into the street twice a year, just before the pickup - they raked their leaves into the street whenever they felt like it, left them there and finally the city came by to collect them. So from my perspective this is not so different (as a recreational bike user and runner).


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

Just another way for the city to cut the budget. Buy our fifty dollar tote and/or go out and buy brown bags rake and bag your leaves. Now like the Lady in the picture, What happens if she is on a limited budget. The city needs to do budget cuts with in the building. Nice new building in town, Wow wait we need to purchase more furnishings to fill hollow space......$$$$$


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:24 a.m.

I pay more taxes than darn near anyone in the state and no leaf removal? Can find out who's idea this was? Next election I'm voting against them if I have a choice. THE PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW!


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Perhaps the article and the poll could include and entirely different take: As a bike commuter, I'm thrilled that the bike lanes are filled with leaves this fall. It's a lot safer for everyone with bike lanes not used as leaf dumps.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:28 a.m.

first! sounds like an opportunity for a lawn service... i.e. curbside pick up and shredding