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UC Aims to Curtail Annual Student Sidewalk Couch Drop

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 18, 2007

Two years ago, Derby Street resident Martha Jones had a sofa sitting on the sidewalk of her block for an entire week. 

When Jones called Council-member Gordon Wozniak—her district’s representative—to complain, the grimy old sofa magically vanished, she said. 

“It started with the UC students who moved out of their apartments at the end of the semester and had no place to store their stuff,” she said. “At first it was just one sofa on the sidewalk, and then there was a whole family of them. If Gordon hadn’t stepped in to help, we would have turned into a furniture store.” 

As students gear up to take their last final at 3:30 p.m. today (Friday), the streets of Berkeley will likely once again be dotted with old sofas, desks, mattresses and other unwanted objects from cleared-out dorm rooms and student apartments. 

This year however, Jones has the option to call up a hotline (643-5309), which is part of an initiative the university has started with the city to tackle the trash students leave behind before they head home for summer. 

“On Thursday morning debris boxes—12 to 20 feet long—will be put out for students to use in areas near campus.” said Irene Hegarty, director of community relations for UC Berkeley. “Students often don’t have cars, since the university advises them not to bring vehicles to school because of parking problems. So they don’t have a way to get rid of the stuff they won’t be using anymore. As a result, the curbside becomes a dumping ground.” 

Although there have been efforts in the past by both UC Berkeley and the city to clean up the campus after students leave for break, none has been effective. 

With the university donating $20,000 and the city $10,000, Hegarty thinks the funds are enough to cover the expenses for the clean-up this year. 

“Door hangers were also hung up on the north side and the south side which alerted students about ways to recycle their trash,” she said. “This weekend and the next, a drop-off recycling center will be set-up on the Clark Kerr campus. Non-profits such as the Alameda County Food Bank and the American Cancer Society will be there to pick up stuff. Computer parts and anything with a plug will be picked up by computer resource centers.” 

Last June, a trip to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Co., by the Chancellor’s Task Force on Student/Neighbor Relations—which in-cluded Hegarty and Assistant City Manager Jim Hynes—introduced them to the “Great Sofa Round-Up.” 

“Colorado State students take a parking lot and drop sofas and chairs off before they leave their dorms,” she said. “It’s difficult to do that here because there’s no one single weekend when students graduate or take their last finals.” 

While some students are happy with UC Berkeley’s efforts this year, others are not too sure they will make a difference. 

“Sure, it’s a small step in the right direction,” said mechanical engineering/political science student Igor Tregub. “Unfortunately, attempts to publicize this effort have probably begun too late for students to have any knowledge about this opportunity this year.” 

Tregub, who will be in Utah for summer, plans to drop off some furniture before he takes off. As of Thursday, he had no idea where the dumpsters were being put up. 

“I wish we had received some kind of map of where to go,” he said. “I guess I am just going to look for the dumpsters close to my apartment at Parker and Dwight.” 

The university posted a No Dumping poster displaying a beat-up sofa with the message: “A sofa on the sidewalk is not lawn furniture” on the 2400 block of Warring street Thursday morning. Hegarty said that more dumpsters would be put out today (Friday) and Saturday.  

According to Hegarty, the most trashed areas were near the fraternities located east of College Avenue, and the one and a half miles around campus. 

Emma Till, a freshman who lives on the Clark Kerr campus, said that she had not heard about the dumpsters, the door hangers or the recycling. 

“I am completely clueless about it,” she said, walking down Channing Way Thursday. 

Others such as Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers Chris Wenner and Neill Barrett said they were happy to see the dumpsters in front of their frathouse. 

“In the past people have been upset with students for leaving things on the sidewalk,” said UC Berkeley student Jason Overman, who ran against Gordon Wozniak for City Council last year. “We haven’t had accessible dumpsters in the past. Now we do, and I think it’s an important step in helping to show the community that students care about their neighborhoods and are interested in keeping them clean.” 

Alan Lightfeldt, a Spring 2007 graduate, said that the university has a duty to make sure that students are responsible neighbors and to give them the proper resources to achieve that. 

“Since I will be moving away to D.C., most of my furniture will be going to friends and the remaining stuff will be sold on,” he said. “One man’s trash is often another man’s treasure. It pays to post.” 


Move-Out Campaign Dumpster Locations 


Locations for debris bins (asterisk  

indicates priority—put out on Friday  

if possible at or near the following locations): 


1. Corner of Channing/Fulton  

(2400 block of Fulton) 

2. *Dwight Way: 2200 block  

3. Dana/Dwight Way 

4. Dana: 2500 block (between 2522 and 2600) 

5. *Ellsworth/Blake (2500 block of Ellsworth) 

6. *Fulton/Parker (2600 block of Fulton) 

7. Ellsworth: 2600 block 

8. Corner of Parker/Regent (on Regent) 

9. *Derby between College/Benvenue 

10. *Benvenue: 2500 block, mid-block (large debris bin) 

11. *Hillegass: 2500 block (northern end) 

12. Regent: 2500 block (southern end) 

13. Haste Street: 2700 block 

14. *Warring: first block south of Dwight Way, west side of street 

15. *Prospect: 2500 block, mid-block 

16. *Warring: 2400 block, mid-block yellow loading zone (west side of street) 

17. *Durant, between College and Piedmont (red zone) 

18. *Channing: 2700 block (red zone) 

19. *College: 2500 block (at top of  


20. *College: Between Garber and Stuart 

21. *North of campus: Ridge/Euclid, red zone 

22. Ridge/LeRoy