Update on the City of Los Angeles’ Trash Hauling Monopoly – recycLA


Update on the City of Los Angeles’ Trash Hauling Monopoly – recycLA

2018-02-17T21:36:19+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Advocacy, Local Updates, Los Angeles|

Details of the Press Conference and the Committee on Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Hearing Held on February 6, 2018

The recycLA program received extensive review and discussion on Tuesday, February 6th.  The day started early with an early morning press conference held at 9:30 A.M. by Councilmembers O’Farrell and Bonin.  Our champion Councilman Bonin, along with Councilman Koretz, had previously initiated a motion to review ways to terminate the existing contracts with the 7 waste haulers that had been awarded contracts under the recycRLA program due to their horrendous service performance levels.  At the press conference, Bonin expressed his outrage with the rollout of the RecycLA program and made assures that the service issues and extreme cost increases would be investigated and remedied.

Councilman O’Farrell then addressed how the recycLA rollout was the worst that he had seen since the implementation of the Department of Water & Power rate increases a few years ago, and that he had no idea that the prices for recycLA would be so high at the time the program was originally approved.

Councilman Bonin then invited the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles to speak during the press conference.  Our Executive Director, Daniel (“Dan”) M. Yukelson took the microphone and spoke about the flood of calls that we had received from our members in regard to cost increases and all of the service problems being experience by its members since the rollout of the program 6 months ago.  Mr. Yukelson also pointed out the injustice of this program for those owners under rent control in Los Angeles, which limits rent increases to 3% per year while the new waste hauling program gave haulers a 3.05% increase effective as of the beginning of this year.

Later that day at 1:00 P.M., the Committee on Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice for the City of Los Angeles held a hearing solely focused on reviewing the recycLA program.  Attendance was immense as the hearing room was packed to capacity and 2 overflow rooms were also full (approximately 240 people in all).  More than 50 speakers signed up to speak to the Committee and voice their concerns about the recycLA program.

At first, there were several speakers from environmental groups, food banks and a couple of tenants urging the Committee to continue with the recycLA program based on the claimed benefits of reduced air pollution (as the trucks were required to be converted to natural gas), reclaimed food for the homeless and recycling of plastics.  A few of the speakers recognized the service problems experienced during the rollout of the program and urged that they be addressed.  The remaining speakers were from a variety of rental housing providers (including several AAGLA members), condominium owners, home owner associations, various groups or associations representing commercial and multifamily housing, and of course, AAGLA all testifying to the multitude of service problems (missed pickups, lack of consistency of pickups, no bins, interference with street sweeping, incorrect billing, loss of parking spaces, etc.), excessive fees (access and distance fees) and the outrageous price increases being charged by the waste haulers (increases from 100% to 600% and even in the 1,000’s percentages in a few cases).  Emotions ran high as speaker after speaker plead for help and relief from the City.  The Committee then went into closed session (e.g., public excluded) to discuss possible legal remedies the City had available for the haulers poor performance and excessive charges. After about 1-hour, the Committee came back into regular session (with the public).

Once back in session, the Committee then heard from the haulers all of whom reported on the difficulties they had faced while expanding their service, routes and equipment into their new, much larger territories.  They claimed that they experienced significant increases in capital and operational costs necessitated due to buying all new natural gas trucks, hiring more drivers and support staff, and paying the City their share of a $35 million per year franchise fee.  In addition, the haulers claimed to have thousands more customers than had been originally estimated by the City at the time the haulers responded to the City’s request for proposal. They also claimed that they had to take on new recycling responsibilities that required more than originally anticipated new staff, advisors and, in some cases, new facilities and/or subcontractors.  The City’s Bureau of Sanitation then reported that the number of complaint calls (a/k/a, “inquiries”) had been significantly dropping since December 2017.

The excuses offered by the haulers raised the ire of all of Councilmembers on the Committee. Councilman Krekorian led the Committee’s passionate response and stated flatly that he did not want to hear any excuses from the haulers as they were the “winners” of these valuable contracts and that many other trash companies had gone out of business because of this program. Committee Chairperson, Councilwoman Martinez, echoed Mr. Krekorian’s sentiment and stated, “no more excuses”.

Councilman Koretz then stated that he believed that the haulers were price gouging by charging such huge increases in hauling fees.  Mr. Koretz stated that he had anticipated an increase of only 25% to 35% to cover the costs of the natural gas trucks, recycling efforts and staffing.  However, he had no idea that 100% to 600% (or more in some cases) increases would be the result.  This was a comment echoed by other Councilmembers on the Committee whereby while they knew the pricing formula when they originally approved the program, they did not necessarily realize that these enormous price increases would have resulted.

The Committee adopted several action items for the haulers, including many new reports regarding performance and pricing.  Of note is a new multifamily working group to discuss the location of bins among other issues (requested by Councilwoman Martinez), and a discussion group to review the issue of fees charged to affordable housing providers, on rent controlled units and non-profits (requested by Councilman Cedillo).

The legion of voices that spoke at the Committee hearing about the extensive service issues and excessive pricing under the recycLA program were heard loud and clear and had a major impact on every Councilmember at the hearing.  However, we will need to remain vigilant to ensure that changes are made in both services and fees.  AAGLA will remain your zealous advocate on this important issue and we will continue to bring you updates as they occur.

9 Comments

  1. JC Gonzalez February 8, 2018 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you AAGLA. The situation is horrible. We have had massive price increases up to $500 for a 4-plex to haul trash. How is this possible? They are making a KILLING!!!!! All on our backs and the rent control restrictions don’t allow us to pass any of this on to the tenants.

    Also, after the trash trucks come, good luck getting down the street or parking with trash cans all over the place. How is responsible for signing such a horrible contract with the trash trucks? Who screwed up to allow such an increase????? We need names!

    TIME IS NOW for the city to start their own trash business. No other was to control price gouging from private trash haulers.

  2. KK February 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Recycle LA is the beginning of the end. No other way to put it.

  3. Eric Vose February 9, 2018 at 1:52 am - Reply

    My bill went from around $98 to around $235. I don’t have the bills in front of me to be specific. They also keep charging me a $5 late fee even though the account has always been paid automatically directly from the bank. When you think of it, if you had 100,000 customers and you charged them all a $5 late fee every month that would make you a half million dollars a month. It is my OPINION that my waste collector is engaging in fraudulent gouging and that, to me, is nothing less than grand theft.

  4. Albert Mass February 9, 2018 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Thank you for working hard to get the city council to understand how bad this waste hauling deal is.

    The solution is to allow one of the following two options:
    1. Allow competition so that other haulers can compete for the business based on the same criteria such as fuel efficient trucks and recycling bins. The current private monopoly system will lead to corruption as happened in the city of Compton.
    or
    2. The city very efficient sanitation department take over the waste hauling for multifamily housing and commercial businesses using the fuel efficient trucks they now have and great collection system in place for single family waste hauling.
    If the city needs to buy more trucks the city can issue bonds and repay them from the revenue generated.

  5. Daniel Gonzalez. February 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I own a 3 unit small building under rent control, I have to put money out my own packet every month, now with this such huge increase , imagine how difficult it gets to be making payments. I use to pay $93 per month for the tras removal and now they want to charge almost $300 dollars, according to Republic Co, which is the company assign to me , they said take or leave it, i have no options. All of this is not making any sense, please i need help to solve this problem, is there any body who can help?

    • E C February 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Mr Gonazalez,

      If your 3-unit building is a residential property, then you are not obligated to use Republic Services under the city contract agreement. The monopoly system applies only to multifamily properties that have more than 4 units. So by having only 3 units you can opt to receive service from the city through L.A. Department of Sanitation. You will no longer have a dumpster on the property, but instead, each unit will get its own cart (like the ones at houses), for trash, green, and recycling.

      I advise you to contact L.A. Department of Sanitation to see how to go about making this change ASAP. You will save yourself LOTS of money in the long run.

  6. gina February 16, 2018 at 1:28 am - Reply

    This report is of no value if nothing is done.
    WE NEED A REFUND OF ALL THE OVERCHARGES, and for the TRASH WE HAD TO HAUL AWAY OURSELVES in order to maintain sanitary conditions. We have had to raise HOA fees to pay for this. CAN WE CANCEL and get an independent hauling company, NOT A TRASH COMPANY. We STILL HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF TRUCKS as the street is all R-1 except our units, and every house has a different trash company, so NOTHING has improved, nor will it.

  7. Rod Bran February 16, 2018 at 2:51 am - Reply

    My trash bill for a ten unit building went from $165 per month to $328 per month. They have missed several pickup days and service is awful. This increase in unfair especially for rent control properties. The city created an monopoly which gave the trash companies Carte blanche to raise our rates. I thought creating an monopoly was unlawful. The city Councilmembers who voted for this outrageous contract should be voted out of office during the next elections. Hopefully this contact can be canceled.

  8. M GEE February 24, 2018 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Our pickup was twice a week: Monday and Thursday for $165.30 a month with our previous waste hauler.

    Athens took over and we went from twice a week pickup to once a week for $198.35. Then we were suddenly just dropped by Athens with no heads up warning. We realized this when trash and recycle bins were piling up and overfilled.

    Then the next problem was getting an account set up with Republic Waste Services who we discovered was supposed to be our new FSP; another headache where we had to constantly call weekly, repeatedly, to get trash picked up.

    Now our waste hauling rate is $207.07 for less service and higher cost than with our original hauler whom we had for years prior to the cities new FSP provider.

    The city essential created A MONOPOLY!!!

    We should be permitted to pass on 1% additional cost to tenants to provide waste hauling.
    We should also be permitted to pass on another 1% to cover the rising costs of WATER.

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