Twelve “smart” Bigbelly trash stations will be installed along Second Street in March, thanks to a decision made last week by the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Commission.

“Boy, is this good news,” Matt Peterson, chair of the commission and co-owner of Legends, said to those who attended the commission’s Thursday meeting inside Fire Station 8.

The dozen new receptacles will enable the commission to replace the “worst looking” Bigbelly stations on the street, some of which were broken, Peterson said. Their $33,229 price tag will drain the last bit of funding from a Community Facilities District bond from 2007, which dedicated dollars for such acquisitions in Belmont Shore, he said.

Peterson says the incoming receptacles will have foot pedals and they won’t have all of “the bells and whistles,” meaning they are more affordable than previous models purchased.

“Some number of the Bigbellys are the fully operational, compacting, solar—all that stuff,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is move away from that technology, because it’s expensive and the maintenance on them is high.”

Second Street will get 12 new replacement BigBelly trash stations, some of which will replace solar Bigbellys like this one. Photo by Kat Schuster

Most importantly, Peterson said the new models will keep doing what they need to: keep trash in and prevent people from pulling anything out.

While a handful of residents want to bring back the old cement waste bins, Peterson told the Post in a separate interview that would not be an option, and it would mean hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in vain.

A mixture of battery-powered and solar Bigbellys first arrived in the neighborhood in 2016, when the commission approved 53 of them for $99,653. Since then, the commission has OK’d various costs associated with the upkeep of the smart trash stations, many of which have the ability to alert whoever is maintaining them as to whether it is full or close to overflowing. Currently, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach is in charge of maintaining the Bigbelly receptacles in Belmont Shore.

Peterson says the Bigbelly stations are simply more hygienic. Before they came to the Shore, he said some residents complained that the city waste cans were easy to pull items out of and easy to overflow. Plus, “they were the right height to sit on and use as a toilet,” he said.

Yet, some Shore residents still allege that Bigbellys are poorly maintained, are often overflowing and are an unnecessary expense.

“It doesn’t seem like they’re maintained at all,” Brian Cochrane, a member of the Belmont Shore Residents Association, said at the meeting.

Jennifer Sandoval, who works with the Conservation Corps of Long Beach, said many of the Bigbellys on Second Street are broken and are difficult for her and fellow members to maintain.

“Some of them, the batteries in the shaft thing get stuck to a point where you can’t really take it out to change the bag,” she told the Post as she worked on the street Wednesday. She said that she’s also arrived many mornings to find locks broken and bags taken from the stations so that people can collect bottles and cans.

Melinda Cotton, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, told the Post that many were immediately broken into when they first came to the street, which she says defeated the purpose of having them.

Jeff Miller, another member of the residents association, urged the commission to ditch the high-tech stations and resurrect the traditional solid, concrete receptacles that used to line the Second Street sidewalks he’s traipsed up and down for years. They were impossible to knock over, he added.

Miller said the Bigbellys are “filthy inside. That’s not a good look for Second Street.”

Peterson told the Post: “That’s a silly critique…it’s a garbage can for crying out loud.”

“I think some of the complaints that are being made are geared toward anything that’s different, anything that represents change,” Peterson said, referencing recent debates over parklets and a new Belmont Shore sign. “I think that their thought is, ‘This ought to be Main Street at Disneyland, and it should be so pristine that you could sit down on any stretch of sidewalk and have a picnic.’”

Kat Schuster is the editor at the Long Beach Post and the author of Off the Clock, a weekly newsletter. You can reach her at