Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Gino Sund's Treatise on Trash

posted by Jeremiah 12/02/2008 05:27:00 PM

From: Gino Sund
To: Stonehill News <neighbors@stonehillnews.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 3:58 PM
Subject: [neighbors] Treatise on Trash

Treatise on Trash

Sorry, I have not been able to comment on the trash hauling thread but I have been out of town for the past week. So, please let me offer my perspective on the issue and perhaps clear up some questions that have been raised.

The current situation in Altadena

Currently, Altadena operates under an open market system. That means there is no County control or oversight over who offers hauling services, what those services are, how they operate or how they are priced. Thus anyone who wants to be in the business can collect your trash. This can range from the major haulers like Allied and Athens to some guy with a pickup truck. Currently there are around seven haulers in Altadena, including a guy with a pickup truck. These haulers offer a variety of services and charge what the market will bear. There is not adequate control of such things as collection days, services offered, billing practices or recycling performance.

How things have changed

In September of 2004, the County Board of Supervisors passed a law changing the unincorporated portion of the County to a franchise trash hauling system. With this new law, in order to collect residential trash, a hauler must now be franchised by the County and all non franchise haulers will be barred from this business. To date, the County has franchised haulers in thirteen different communities in LA County and is about to do so in Altadena. When a franchise is established, a detailed contract is awarded, a hauler is selected by the County through a bidding process and the County oversees the performance of that hauler. Typically the contract period is seven years.

Why Town Council is involved

About two years ago, the County sent out a questionnaire to residents of Altadena asking such things as how many trash cans they used, what kind of trash is offered for collection, and how many haulers the residents wanted. This questionnaire was a small yellow post card. Do you remember getting it? Most people don’t. It could easily have been mistaken for junk mail and it gave little explanation of what the issues really were. Then, about two months ago, the County was about to request bids on the contract for Altadena that would define our trash hauling for the next seven years. Several of us on Council were concerned that the community input on this was inadequate, so we stopped the process to allow us to review the contract and to gather more input from the residents. Thus, we are now asking for your input on the two important issues that we can affect at this point; what should be in the service provisions of the contract and should we have a single hauler or two haulers.

The conditions of the contract

Whoever is the franchise hauler or haulers will operate under a single contract that is offered by the County. That contract will spell out such things as the scope of services i.e. the number, type and amount of pick ups, the type of containers, the provisions for price increases, the recycling requirements, and the conditions under which the contract can be terminated.

While many of the contract provisions are fairly standard for all communities, it is important that the scope of services of our contract meet the needs of Altadena. This is the area of the contract that will most influence our weekly interface with the hauler.

[Below] is a schedule of the service provisions of the contract. Council has worked with the Department of Public Works to beef up several areas, especially the collection of green waste since we have large, leafy lots in Altadena. However, we are still looking for input from you to help us decide on what is best for most residents.

A single hauler or two haulers

This may be the most controversial and confusing issue. When the County sent out its post card survey, it asked if residents wanted an exclusive, semi exclusive or multi hauler program. The majority or respondents requested semi exclusive or two haulers. However, there was no explanation of what this really meant. Most of us thought that having two haulers would, through the mechanism of competition, give us more options, better service and lower prices. However, this may not be the case. The contract will be the same for a single hauler or two haulers so there will be no differences in the services provided. And as for price, the competition will come at the front end of the process when the haulers bid for the contract. In fact, experience has indicated that a lower price is attained when the provider has a larger customer guarantee, since among other factors, there is a capital outlay required to service the area. As for the weekly performance by the providers, the County will oversee the compliance with the contract for one or two haulers.

Of the thirteen contracts already awarded by the County, all have been exclusive contracts. The average price for service has been around 10% less that the previous price of the open market, with generally more services provided. The County reports that the customer satisfaction has been high with few resident complaints to date.

Arguments for the single hauler are:

More bidders for the contract thus lower prices.
Fewer trucks on the streets,
Fewer pickup dates. (this is big issue in many neighborhoods especially those who border Pasadena who collects trash on shared streets adding yet another day)
Reduced pollution and road wear.
More community involvement by the provider. (in other communities the provider is a regular at the Town Council meetings to hear from the residents)

Arguments for two haulers are:

Two haulers may compete by being more helpful to the residents
Two haulers may compete by adding services not covered by the contract. (however, this has happened in the bidding process by providers who wish to enhance their chance of getting the contract, again the competition up front)

What happens now

We need your input on the scope of services provided in the contract, in particular green waste pick up. We would also like your thoughts on the single provider approach.

Town Council will debate and recommend contract conditions at the December 16th meeting. The County will then make a request for bids to the industry, select the winner based on a formula that includes price, financial capacity, past history etc. Depending on the winner, as determined by the County, implementation could be from 3 to 6 months.

Who will get the bid

Of course we don’t know. It is expected that both allied and Athens will bid for the Altadena franchise. However, I find it most interesting that of the thirteen franchises awarded so far, those two large haulers were only awarded three. Most of the franchises were awarded to medium sized haulers. The feedback from those managing the bidding process is that those medium sized haulers are more likely to bid on an exclusive franchise than if a semi exclusive franchise is offered.

What you need to do

If you have input to give Town Council please contact you Census Tract Representative. The contact information is on the Town Council web site. As an alternative you may want to come to our next meeting at the Community Center starting at 7:00 p.m. on December 16th.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Gino Sund

Altadena Town Council


PROPOSED TRASH COLLECTION SERVICE FEATURES

Regular pick up serviceWeekly between 6:00a.m.and 6:00p.m.
Typesof ContainersOne 96 gal Refuse cart
Two 96 gal Green Waste carts
Two 96 gal Recycling carts
Additional Trash carts$5 /month surcharge
Additional Recycling and Green Waste cartsAdditional carts $5/mo each
Different size cartNo charge
Bins and dumpstersPermitted but not covered by the contract
Container replacementNo charge
BearProof containers$143 for a 32 gal container
$1329 for a 2 cubic yd container
$1519 for a 3 cubic yd container
$1736 for a 4 cubic yd container
Additional Refuse collectionFourpickups per year
(curbside in bags)
Additional Green Waste collection(curbside in bags)Eight pickups per year
Holiday tree collectionNo charge
Curb side bulky item collection(unlimited)Two pick ups per year including e-waste
Additional bulky item collection$25 per collection
Annual CleanupOnce a year curb side collection of bulky itemsincluding e-waste and green waste
Special Clean up EventsHauler will provide bins or containers for discardsof solid waste four times a year for community clean up projects or publicevents
Senior and Low Income DiscountsSeniors 62 or older who are head of the householdand qualify for a utility discount based on financial need receive a 25%discount
Reduced rate for seniors with smallercapacity cartsSeniors 62 or older who are head of the householdand choose three 32 gal containers receive a 25% discount
Rollout serviceBasic service rate plus a 25% surcharge
No charge for Seniors or the disabled whoare the head of the household .
Scooter Service ( small vehicle)Basic service rate plus a 50% surcharge

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