Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Recycling those difficult items

posted by Jeremiah 2/08/2009 03:36:00 PM

Neighbor Dan Westphal forwarded some great info about recycling household hazardous waste. He included a link to this blog and this pdf from Los Angeles-Glendale
S.A.F.E. Collection Center. Here are the details from the S.A.F.E. Collection Center flier:

Los Angeles-Glendale S.A.F.E. COLLECTION CENTER

For the Residents of the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles

For security purposes, participants will be required to check-in with guard at front gate and show a valid California I.D.

Residential Special Materials and Electronic Waste

WE ACCEPT:
paint and solvents;used motor oil and filters,anti-freeze,and other automotive fluids;cleaning products;pool and garden chemicals; aerosol cans; all medicine; auto batteries; household (alkaline) batteries;fluorescent tubes and bulbs,thermostats,and other mercury-containing lamps.

WE ALSO ACCEPT:
computers, monitors, printers, network equipment, cables, telephones, televisions, microwaves, video games,cell phones, radios, stereos, VCRs, and electronic toys.

RESIDENTS ARE LIMITED TO A TOTAL OF SIX PIECES PER VISIT TO A S.A.F.E. CENTER

WE DO NOT ACCEPT:
business waste, ammunition, explosives, radioactive material, biological waste or tires. Bulky Items: furniture, refrigerators, washing machines/dryers, conventional ovens, paper, computer software.

TRANSPORTATION LIMIT FOR CHEMICAL RELATED ITEMS:
It is against the law to transport more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of hazardous wasteto collection sites.Please pack your waste properly to prevent tipping or spilling of the waste during transportation. No business and/or commercial waste drop-offs

Hours of Operation
Saturday and Sunday
9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.

4600 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA90039


Google directions from Lake and the 210:


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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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Notice of Intent (to cancel Allied Waste Services)

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 07:21:00 PM



For shame!

A little background. As many in this area will recall, about two or three years ago, BFI was bought out by Allied Waste Services. When it was still BFI, Athens Services came to town , offering a cheaper alternative, but rather than switch, I called up BFI and told them I had a lower offer. BFI promptly matched Athens' rate without argument. Ever since Allied Waste took over, they have been trying to sneak up my rate, but each time I have called and told them that Athens is cheaper, and they have (now grudgingly) acquiesced and matched Athens rate.

Allied Waste bills quarterly, and I being the techno-dweeb that I am, have them on automatic bill-pay service. As it seems, last quarter (the bill due in October) they raised my rate by $5.06. Upon receiving payment for the normal amount, they decided to threaten me with a $25 penalty if I did not square up with them.

I received that notice in December, but being a busy month with work and being December holiday season, I didn't open it until last weekend. By then I already had a second notice along side the first one informing me that I was now delinquent and that I now owed them the penalty. I resolved to call them this week and take issue with the charges, but before I got around to calling, I received the above threatening letter in today's mail.

Not only is this an issue of a mere $5.06, it is also transpiring before they have even waited for a complete billing cycle to elapse. Most other companies I've dealt with simply put any balance due on the next bill, as long as you don't abuse the situation. In this case, I've paid like clockwork (almost literally, given that it is paid automatically by a service).

They inform me in the letter, "This is your final opportunity to settle this matter quickly and amicably. Be assured that should you fail to comply with this request, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our interests. Should it be necessary to file suit, we will request prejudgment and postjudgement interest, court costs, and all additional attorney's fees incurred in the prosecution of such an action, as allowable by law."

And then in a brilliantly ironic closing, "Respectfully, Collections Department"

I don't know whether to laugh or go ballistic. Maybe it's some kind of prank being played on me for Candid Camera.

Already I was on the fence because of their repeated attempt to raise the price. The primary thing that was holding me back from switching was an assumption that Allied must do a better job of separating waste because they start out with it separated by making us do it and sending three trucks up the street. Athens only sends one truck, making a total of four huge garbage trucks on Stonehill every week. Some of the neighbors have already been casually lobbying me to switch to Athens to limit the number of big trucks on Stonehill. After a quick Google search for an Athens website, I found out that my reservations about post collection sorting seem to be unfounded. http://www.athensservices.com/materialrecovery.htm

I am now bound and determined to lobby everyone on Stonehill (and anyone who will listen for that matter) to dump Allied Waste.

Let's see. More expensive, more trucks, more cans to bang around the yard, and terrible (non-existent) customer service for the same end result. Seems like a no-brainer to dump Allied Waste Services.

One reservation I have heard from some other Allied Waste customers on Stonehill was about price. I currently pay $62/quarter and they evidently are trying to raise me to $67/quarter, which is still about $20 less than what Athens quoted me when I called them for rate information. They don't have any promotions to offer, even when I suggested that we might bring a group of people to the table.

Here is what Athens told me on the phone:

$29.25/month (bills quarterly for $87.75/quarter)

With Athens you provide your own cans and they allow up to six 35 gal. barrels. They ask you to put your garbage in separate cans from green waste and recycling.

Anyone 55 years or more gets a senior discount of 10% or $78.49/quarter


Allied Waste quoted me the following:

10 containers for trash (you provide) except select routes which have the large cans (Allied provides)

Separate containers for recycle and yard waste (Allied provides)

Three separate trucks for each type of material.

Standard rate is $24.50/month + taxes & fees = "About $90-$100/quarter". The customer service rep could not tell me how that was calculated or give me a precise quarterly cost.

Senior rate is $19.12/month + taxes & fees. The customer service rep could not give me an estimate of what this would amount to on a quarterly basis.

Extra charges for bulky items (anything that doesn't fit in trash can):
$27 for first two items and $11 each additional

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At 2/01/2008 10:49 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

Dear Stonehill News Blogger:

You are not the only one having problems with Allied Waste. A dear friend of mine who lives in Altadena, and, who happens to be 101 years old, has received the same letter. Since Allied took over, they've stopped giving her the senior discount; they increase her rate almost every month; and they are now saying she didn't pay her last bill (for Nov, Dec, and Jan)..... even though she has the cancelled check to prove it.

This was her last week with them. She switched to Athens.

Good Luck to you!!

 
At 2/01/2008 10:50 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

I meant quarter, not month. sorry!

 
At 3/28/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger a said...

i live in Altadena and i pay Allied $86.22 or so every quarter. The cost is similar to Athens so no real advantage in changing except if Athens has better service

 
At 3/30/2008 5:34 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

That's right. The price is so similar it boils down to service. It's the (lack of) good customer service that inspired me to undertake this whole drama. Since I've switched, I'll admit to missing the huge rolling trash can.

All other things being equal, I think I'd probably be inclined to pick Allied based on features. I discovered that they have an automatic payment option (subsequent to switching to Athens). This would prevent the $5 payment drama I experienced, and taken in combination with the big rolling bin, I'm seriously considering going back to Allied for the features and convenience, despite my bad (or more to the point, impersonal) experience with their bureaucracy. Frankly, I have no assurance that I won't get the same sort of red-tape snafu from Athens, who has an arguably inferior product for the same price, and with automatic bill payment, I frankly should never have to talk to or interact with either of them.

I'll post a follow up if I do switch back.

 
At 5/25/2008 5:10 PM, Blogger Palm Axis said...

I'd go with the company thats Union and pays it's workers a living wage. BFI payed less then half of what the city of L.A. pays it's trash collectors. With Athens you can pay the guys out of pocket to carry out heavy items.
I have enjoyed visiting your blog..

 
At 8/26/2008 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I'm so glad I found your blog.... I am currently with athens and being hassled beyond belief including being charged for a huge container they say I had in front of my house for a week. This didn't happen and not i have a 300.00 + bill for something I didn't order and they can't proved I ordered etc... but they sure are sending me to collections.... THE THING is .... everyone is talking about allied as having taken over BFI but I'm with Athens and my statement is from ALLIED! Do they now own both BFI and athens???? God help us!

 
At 9/05/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I don't think Allied and Athens the same company (as you say, God help us!). If you're getting a bill from Allied, that's probably different from Athens. I'd call them for clarification if I were you. Please let us know if it turns out they are somehow joined together.

Also, FWIW, I did switch to Allied with the automatic deduction. It's worth it for me to have the large plastic residential bin on wheels.

 

Snail-mail Spam?

posted by Jeremiah 2/10/2006 09:27:00 AM

If you're like me, the unruly circulars full of ads and coupons that show up in your real mail box bother you almost as much as their modern equivalent in your email inbox or your fax machine. The good news is, the "real" spam costs the sender money, unlike email spam which is "free" or fax spam where the spammer actually steals your supplies to advertise to you.

I have had a surprisingly easy time getting in touch with the senders to remove my address from their lists. I decided to tear off the address portion and contact portion of all the junk mail circulars that arrived in January. I discarded all duplicates and came up with four publishers so far.
Advo publishes Shopwise
They have a web form. I filled this out and promptly received a confirmation postcard informing me that it could take 6-8 weeks to be purged from the system, and that the removal was good for five years, at which time I assume I will have to remove myself again.

LA Times publishes Local Values
They have a removal instructions on their website which state:
To discontinue delivery of your Local Community Values, contact Customer Service, (626) 472-5242.

Penny Saver is it's own publisher
They give out a subscription department phone number from the automated phone tree at their Customer Comments line: (800) 422-4116

Cox Target Media publishes ValPak
They have a web form.
Note: I called Penny Saver first (in December) and left removal instructions. Their outgoing message states that it takes them 2-3 weeks to purge you from their system, but I was still receiving their circular five or six weeks later. I called the same number and requested that someone call me back with a confirmation, which they did. I was told that they took me off on my first request, but that they use an "address card" that is separate from the circular. She told me that I am certainly not receiving that, and I should "inform the mailman" to stop delivering the circular. I taped a little note on the inside of my mailbox door addressed to Letter Carrier. We'll see if that works.

If I identify more publishers in our area, I'll update this list.

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At 4/16/2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Geoffrey Baum said...

Thanks! This was very helpful information. I've filled out the forms already.

 
At 12/29/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Local values" circulars are published by the local newspaper. In San Diego the Union-tribune does this and the contact information to be removed is 619-293-1544.

 
At 8/24/2009 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks!

 

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