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Opinion: Move On with Recology Negotiations

Trash Talk You Almost Didn't Hear About: Community Forum on Solid-Waste Disposal Details New RECOLOGY Service for Pacifica


On November 30 the City of Pacifica held "a community forum on solid waste disposal services, including recycling." About 50 people attended. Click Comments below to report on the meeting and to see what others say about it, particularly the detailed comment by Chris Porter.

Garbage collection was the main topic, but also that the notice fulfilling the legal requirement appeared on page 17A of the Pacifica Tribune (November 25). Why page 17A with no news story attached? Well, Tribune publisher/editor Elaine Larsen told me that the notice was received just before the newspaper's publication deadline, and there wasn't time to do a story, much less give it more prominent placement. If it weren't for Elaine, I never would have known the notice was there. I went right over it.

Now why would such an important, once-in-a-lifetime event such as changing trash collection firms be so under-noticed? Maybe because it's becoming evident that the City of Pacifica wants to shove the problem/contract at Recology and not do a request for proposal process (RFP). An RFP might (horrors!) protect the ratepayers, who have been paying the highest rates for garbage collection in San Mateo County, courtesy of the gougemasters at Coastside Scavenger.

And, of course, the city mustn't be let off the hook for its complete lack of oversight between 1995 and 2006. An RFP would encourage a competitive bidding process—you know, that thing you've heard of and never seen here in Pacifica. The city manager characterized this process as "contentious," and he's right—it's really a bitch when all of us unwashed citizens come out and speak our minds.

But it's important that we do so, and ask that an RFP be instituted for this contract, and tell them what we'd like to see in recycling services—something other than being told by Coastside Scavenger that containers bearing recycling numbers 1, 6, and 7 be "thrown away."  


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Todd: The 8% is NOT guaranteed, but the 11% is.

It seems that Recology also is buying Coastside Scavengers' cost-plus-8% contract, which is a city guarantee that Recology will make an 8% profit after all expenses. For this agreement, the city receives an 11% fee of total gross receipts from the waste hauler annually.

The pig is changing, but the sty is staying the same.

What is the expected date of Recology taking over our beloved Coastside Scavengers?

thanks for the detailed report on the meeting--this is really good news for pacifica ratepayers and for the environment

The meeting last night was very informative and insightful. It began with a slide show from RECOLOGY showing the background of the company and different recycling venues (MRFs, composting, curbside, etc.). Many questions were asked about can size (residential customers will be provided with a choice of 20-, 32-, 64-, or 96-gallon can) and recycling equipment. Each customer also will be given a 64-gallon can for mixed recycling and a choice of a 64- or 96-gallon can for greenwaste. All plastics (except Styrofoam) will be taken in the can (all recycling numbers), and the materials we take now, plus aluminum foil. Many questions were asked about greenwaste and the addition of food components into the greens to facilitate composting. It was stated that food waste would begin "approximately one year" later, with several citizens asking that this be included in the contract to make sure this part of the composting process is definitely started. The Palmetto recycling yard will stay open and the employees will be kept on and become employees of RECOLOGY. Lots of discussion about how customers will be notified of change in service, can size they want, etc. Tracy Swanton, an employee of Hilton Farnkoff, the city's consultant in the reassignment process, stated that RECOLOGY is known for its excellent notification of customers. Coastside's website will begin to have RECOLOGY info soon. There was also discussion about extra cans and pickups in town, bus stop pickups, and areas of concern regarding the recycling yard. There seemed to be a wide cross section of citizens, so somehow the word got out. I know Kathy Meeh advised many associates, as did Lynn Adams.

{EDITOR'S NOTE: Our ace reporter Lionel Emde wrote an exclusive story for Pacifica Riptide, which I posted over the weekend, and then did an email blast to my lists. --John Maybury}

Three City Council members, including Mayor Julie Lancelle and Mayor Pro Tem Sue Digre, were in attendance as well as Steve Rhodes and Ann Ritzma. Another discussion centered on there being no rate increase in the first year and a possible inclusion in the contract of a CPI rate mechanism for any future increases. Tracy Swanton stated that this is the manner used now in most contracts.

As you may or may not know, RECOLOGY recently won the majority of the Peninsula contracts covered under the SBWMA. These contracts were previously serviced by BFI. Other companies bid, but RECOLOGY was found to be the best provider overall. This should be a positive endorsement for this company that is more than 100 years old.

In the world before computers, yes, Kathy, that is what people did.

24 hours in advance for a function that affects all citizens ~~ and that all taxpayers pay for ~~ is not enough time to effectively notify the public.

If posting information on a Web site is a courtesy, is it the expectation that people will walk by, say, City Hall, to see information on a particular wall?

A special meeting needs to be "noticed" (posted) only 24 hours in advance. Posting on the Web site is a courtesy. The letter of the law is certainly being followed by the City Clerk.

But we need a real public forum on this issue, and some community input would be nice. Without more notice and publicity, the meeting will be poorly attended, giving the impression that no one cares. I think the possibility of more rate hikes would get folks there quickly, and don't think that isn't coming soon. RFP is a process that needs to happen to get the best rates and services for Pacifica. I hope our council members will see the huge benefit in proceeding with the RFP process, and that they and staff will work diligently to get us rates and services that our city deserves.

This appears to be worth attending. Nothing like sunshine, right?

The city does have this info on its Web site, but it's not clear when it was added.

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