City of Santa Cruz Residential Food Scrap Program Info

City of Santa Cruz Residential Curbside Food Scrap Collection Program

Did you know that 40% of food in the US is wasted and the average American household throws out 25% of the food they purchase?

Santa Cruz County is making it a priority to reduce this waste and is expanding the Commercial Food Scrap Collection program. The City has begun Curbside Food Waste Collection from Single Family and Multi Family Residences by supplying residents with a new food scrap bin.

Here are some tips for collecting food scraps from your home:

Food Scraps YES

Food Scraps NO

Once you've collected your food scraps, your 6 gallon bin can be left out with your organics and recycling bins for weekly pick up.

Please click here to watch a brief information video. 

Property Maintenance Tips: Preventing Grease Buildup in Your Kitchen Sink

We at Distinct Property Management run into maintenance requests about clogged kitchen sinks at least once a week and in 99.9% of the cases the cause was a build up of grease, which has turned into black thick goo. Grease is a normal substance found in the kitchen, and comes from cooking processes and food such as meat and dairy. It is a common misconception that pouring grease down the drain is okay if you run hot water and pour dish soap after it. In reality, grease should never go down the drain. Even if it’s hot and easy to pour out of the pan, it will eventually cool and solidify somewhere in your plumbing. This causes a gummy, goopy mess to form along the pipe walls, trapping other debris that flows down the drain. Over time, the resulting clogs could bring your drains to a standstill.

Even if the grease makes it past your home’s plumbing system, it continues to wreak havoc in the municipal sewer system. Some cities spend millions of dollars a year addressing damaged sewer systems and clearing out masses of solid waste—obstacles the industry calls “fatbergs,” which are named for the cooking oil and grease that hold the obstructions together. By never pouring grease down the drain, you can help prevent clogs and other plumbing problems further down the line.

Thankfully, there are measures you can take to avoid this common clog.

1. Don't send fatty, greasy, or oily foods down the sink

It may seem like an easy cleanup option, but pouring any greasy, oily, or fatty food substances down the sink is the beginning of a grease clog. This includes salad dressing, coconut oil, peanut butter, butter, lard, mayonnaise, cosmetic oils and petroleum jelly.  Remove excess grease and food scraps from cookware and dishes before washing by wiping them out with a paper towel. Also, any dishes which have a bigger grease buildup should be soaked with a grease-dissolving cleaner before the washing process.

2. Hot water and grease cutting soap

Some fatty, oily, and greasy substances will find their way into your kitchen drain regardless of how carefully you wash up. To help avoid grease clogs, intermittently run lots of hot water and grease cutting soap down the drain. Use this method frequently to breakdown any accumulating grease.

3. Hot water and vinegar

You may prefer to avoid chemicals found in soaps and cleaners. There are natural products that have been found to effectively fight grease buildup in kitchen sinks. We suggest trying a 1:1 ratio of hot water and vinegar. Sending boiling water down the drain helps melt the clog, while the vinegar eats away at debris attached to the wall of the pipe. Finish the process by sending more boiling water down the drain to clear any remaining grease.

What is renters insurance and why is it important?

At first glance, many people assume renters insurance is only to protect their personal property. But did you know that renters insurance actually provides three types of coverage?

1. Personal Property or Personal Belongings Coverage:

This includes items such as furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, and bedding to name a few.  However, there are certain personal belongings that may not be covered if they are above a certain value.  For items such as jewelry, artwork, and collectibles, one must usually add-on to their policy for additional coverage. 

2. Renters Liability or Personal Liability Coverage: 

Let’s say you are having a dinner party, one of your guests slips and falls in the kitchen putting you at fault and then sues you. General liability coverage may cover court costs and attorney fees that your renters insurance otherwise wouldn’t. Think of it this way: personal property coverage covers your belongings, personal liability insurance covers you!

3. Additional Living Expenses Coverage:

This coverage can provide the policy holder with reimbursement if a covered disaster results in temporary relocation from the property.  Examples of reimbursement may include lodging, food, and other living expenses.  While the policies may vary, covered disasters often include smoke, fire, explosions, theft, vandalism, windstorms, lightning, and water damage from an internal source.  

Flood Insurance Policies/Coverage: 

Generally speaking, renter’s insurance does not cover damage to your belongings in the event of a flood (this also applied to sewage overflows that enters the home). If you live in a flood zone, we highly recommend you review flood coverage with your insurance agent as part of your renters insurance. If you are unsure about whether or not you live in a flood zone, please refer to your lease agreement or check the FEMA flood map.

Final Thoughts: 

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “but that wouldn’t happen to me”, and chances are, it might not.  However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially in an event that is out of your control.

What is in your control?

Regularly checking for leaks under you sink, at the base of your toilets and anywhere else where water can easily pool.  It is absolutely crucial that any leaks or water damage is reported to your property manager AS SOON AS THEY ARE NOTICED!  Failure to do so or negligence of the issue can cause irreversible damage the property that becomes the tenant’s responsibility.  If these things are caught right away, further damage can be avoided.  When in doubt, call and ask as soon as you notice!

As you may have gathered, there can be a lot of gray areas when it comes to what may or may not be covered depending on the company you choose to buy a policy with, and the policies themselves.  It is always a good idea to review your options with your insurance broker to make sure you’re getting the coverage you desire. 

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, please have your agent include Distinct Property Management as one of your certificate holders so we can be sure to have your policy on file. 

Disclaimer: Distinct Property Management is not an insurance agent and can not advise what coverage is appropriate for you. Please consult your insurance agent.

About the importance of dryer vent cleaning

Do you know why regular cleaning of dryer vents is so important?

As a tenant, you understand the importance of checking your smoke detectors, changing your air filters and keeping up with other preventative maintenance in your home. But how much time do you spend cleaning your dryer vent? If you’re like the average resident, the answer is probably, “not much.”

Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Data Center, nearly 15,000 structural fires occur each year as a result of an issue with a clothes dryer, and clogged, dirty dryer vents cause 80% of the fires.

Warning signs that it’s time to clean your vent

Sanitary Wipes Reminder

These little fellas still don't belong into the toilet

Please remember the following when using paper towels and disinfecting wipes. This could save you money in plumbing repairs and an after-hours nightmare. Please read on here.

As Americans stockpile disinfecting wipes and paper towels to clean their homes more often to reduce the risk of coronavirus, California’s state water regulators on Tuesday urged them to keep one thing in mind: Don’t flush them down the toilet.

Wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper does in water. They are stronger, and many wipes include plastics and materials like nylon. That means bad news for sewer systems. 

“Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” the California’s State Water Resources Control Board said. “Even wipes labeled “flushable” will clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment."

Distinct Property Management’s Green Living Tips*

Distinct Property Management’s Green Living Tips

As a homeowner or renter in Santa Cruz there are many little steps you can take to live a more "green" life and conserve natural resources. Please see the useful tips below.

Save Energy

Save Water

Shop Local, In Season, and Organic

Reduce Pollution and Toxics

If you’d like to learn more about reusable and more environmentally friendly products you can easily swap out in your day to day life – read more in this article.

*Adapted from LifeHacker’s 20 Green Tips and Life Hacks for Sustainable Living    

Distinct's Winter Tips

As we move into the winter season there are a few things you can do to help prepare yourself and your home for all the surprises that winter weather and can bring. Being mindful of these things and familiarizing yourself with your home before an emergency, power outage or weather related concern arises can both help prevent issues and make you better prepared should anything happen.

As many California residents have experienced throughout this Fall season, there are times when PG&E may cut electrical and/or gas services to their customers. With the current state of much of their equipment and new laws in place this is something to always be prepared for. You can be better prepared for a power outage by keeping extra water for all the members of your household as well as any pets on hand, and keeping a stock of extra batteries, lanterns and non-perishable food items like canned soups and vegetables, dry pasta, etc. 

Thank you for your attention to this letter, and we hope you have a happy and safe Winter this year!

PG&E Wildfire Season & Safety Reminders

As many of you may know, California is very prone to wildfires during this dry and hot season of the year. To ensure that residents are as safe as possible when wildfires become a threat PG&E has issued a notice that in order to limit danger and damages they may temporarily turn off electricity to certain areas to protect the public. Additionally, they have released some safety tips for homeowners to keep in mind:

Distinct is a Santa Cruz Green Certified Business

Distinct Property Management became certified as a Green Business through the California Green Business Program on March 22, 2017.

At this time, Distinct is the only Property Management company within Santa Cruz County that is Green Certified. Certified Green Businesses in the City of Santa Cruz have gone above and beyond regulatory requirements to prevent pollution and conserve resources by: reducing water use, conserving energy, purchasing recycled content products, eliminating toxic cleaning chemicals, improving worker safety and reducing waste to landfill.

For additional information about Green Businesses, please visit the City's informational page here: here.

Property Maintenance: What not to put down your kitchen sink

How to avoid kitchen sink backups after dinner

As a homeowner or renter in Santa Cruz there are many little steps you can take that help you prevent having to deal with an after hours emergency and plumbing ones usually can get pricey. Best example the kitchen sink!  Even if you have a garbage disposal, certain foods can seriously gum up the works. To keep your pipes flowing freely, don't put these things down your drain .

1. Starchy foods

Pretend your sink is on a perpetual Atkins diet and steer clear of giving it too many carbs — even if you're lucky enough to have a garbage disposal.

"There are several foods that cause big problems in your drain when you put large quantities into the disposal," says Abrams. "The worst offenders are pasta, potato peels, and rice. These starchy foods turn to goo inside your drain."

How to dispose of starchy foods: Drain those items through a sieve or colander and then dump the rest into the trash. Then, use a paper towel to clean out the remnants from the strainer before you wash it. (Or compost them of course!)

2. Fat

To keep on the weight-loss theme, your sink's meals should also be fat-restricted. It goes in as a liquid, but it will congeal like candle wax and gradually decrease the diameter of your drainpipe until the flow eventually stops altogether.

How to dispose of cooking fats: What to do instead? Keep an old coffee can nearby and pour off oil before washing the pan. Some fat is bound to slip down the drain, so to keep it from building up, run the tap at its hottest temp for a minute, followed by a few healthy squirts of grease-cutting dish soap, like Dawn. Then, run the water for one more minute.

3. Breakfast Stuff

Even though they're small and you think they'd be no big deal, broken eggshells and coffee grinds can cause problems. It takes a lot of water to push them through your drainage system so they usually end up contributing to a clog deep inside your pipes.

How to dispose of eggshells and coffee grounds: Peel hard-boiled eggs over the trash and throw away shells once you've cracked them. (Or compost the shells!) Use a fine-mesh sieve when cleaning out a French press and toss the grinds it collects. If your coffee carafe tends to get grounds in it, add a bit of water to a mostly empty pot and dump it in your garden.

4. Fibrous Foods

Fibrous foods like celery chunks and carrot peels can overwhelm the disposal and clog your drain. And without a disposal, these chunks will obviously just sit in the drain and cause clogs.

How to dispose of fibrous veggies: Do your drain (and yourself!) a favor and put all veggie scraps right into the trash or compost.

5. Seeds

Seeds of all sizes are problematic. You might be tempted to see what your disposer can do with a peach seed, but know this: It won't do much! Large seeds end up bouncing around inside the disposal like a rock. They'll just clatter around inside and beat up your disposal until it is finally removed.  Smaller seeds, like flax seeds, will just get stuck in the curves of the pipes and cause backups.