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Recology Gets 5 Percent Rate Hike for Pacifica Garbage Collection


City Council unanimously approved a 4.99 percent rate increase for Recology during its meeting Monday evening. If a majority of the rate payers officially protested the increase, it would not have happened. However, the city received only 185 protests, not nearly enough to make up a majority. A majority would have required 5,841 protests. The increased rate will be in effect from Jan. 1 to the end of 2012. For those who use the smallest 20-gallon can, the rate will increase from $21.88 per month to $22.95 a month. Pete Pereira complained to City Council Recology has eliminated the senior rate he enjoyed under Coastside Scavenger's operation. "My rate has doubled since Recology took over," he said. Ken Miles also objected to the higher rate and said Pacificans pay the highest rate in the county. "We are being taxed to death," he said. The city's consultant, Rick Simonsen of HF&H, said some other communities are experiencing rate increases, but not all. "There are lots of variables when determining fees," he said. Chamber of Commerce CEO Courtney Conlin supported the business and the rate increase. City Councilmember Jim Vreeland said he hated approving a rate increase, but he and the other council members determined it was necessary to do so to fulfill the terms of the franchise agreement with Recology.


Pacifica City Council heard the latest request for another price increase in Pacifica’s sky-high garbage collection rates at a public meeting on October 10 and approved it unanimously at its November 28, 2011 meeting (see Jane Northrop's Pacifica Tribune front-page news story above). The current request for a 5 percent increase in January 2012 follows an 8 percent increase in July 2011 and a 5 percent increase in August 2010. At the time Recology was awarded the no-bid contract in February 2010, Pacificans already were paying the highest garbage collection rates in San Mateo County. Residents were able to submit written protest letters in accordance with the settlement reached in Emde v. City of Pacifica. Letters were counted and tabulated as part of the public hearing on November 28 at City Council chambers. Recology also services Montara, Moss Beach, and El Granada. Those communities pay half as much for garbage collection as Pacifica. Those communities are served by the same company running the same trucks out of the same location that serves Pacifica. The question of why rates are so much lower there for similar service never has been answered.


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OK, Chris, I'll go to fixpacifica in an attempt to read your spin, since you don't feel you can offer it here. People on that blog don't like the rate increases any better than here.

Chris, I'm assuming you are posting while on the clock, yes?

Todd, you can move from blog to blog, but anyone interested in getting the real answer to Todd's post can go to fixpacifica.blogspot.

One speaker tonight had a great idea that the city should add the protest forms to the notices it circulates before the required rate increase hearings. Also, it is clear that Recology feels it has bought and paid for its fee increases by its donations to local causes -- according to the Chamber of Commerce, at least. Very laughable.

I think it's a very reasonable request of ratepayers to the city, that a protest form be included in all future rate increase notifications.

One speaker tonight had a great idea to add the protest forms to the notices the city must circulate before a rate hike and to the bills Recology sends out a month or two before the required hearing.

Well, we all watched City Council tonight. Still not clear why they want a 5 percent hike, when everyone in the work world is getting at most a 1 percent to 3 percent raise.

Does this have anything to do with the lawsuit that Pacifica lost?

Thanks for the great ideas.

The form is downloadable and for anyone to copy and put forth for whatever effort they want to distribute it.

I appreciate Tom's offer and effort. if money can be found, I'll be glad to proof whatever goes into the paper.

It's important to note that garbage rate protests are different from sewer rate protests. Garbage protests require the signature of the person whose name is on the bill and the service address. Sewer rate protests require one property owner's signature and the parcel number of the property. One protest is allowed per garbage bill; one sewer protest is allowed per parcel.

Tom, I'm in. I have no money but can write. I think the emphasis should be on this type of protest vote procedure and how it is conducted. I think if we can convey the simplicity of protest voting with the forms to download, it could take care of itself. Since it is in reaction to sewer, garbage, and water rates, the message should be general.

My ad person at the Tribune tells me I can get a half page for $300.00 or a full page for $575.00. Who's in and for how much?

The low-cost way to make a decent push would be to print out a stack of protest forms and set up tables at the major grocery stores in town. Recology customers could choose to express their displeasure there, and then you could just drop them off at City Hall in person.

If nothing else, taking out a large ad in the Trib will certainly get the attention of City Council members (I witnessed the hullabaloo generated at the last City Council meeting I attended October10 over the San Mateo County Association of Realtors' ad).

Thanks, Mike.

Polling data for Pacifica School District (PSD) showed that 80 percent of the people polled get their local information from the Pacifica Tribune.

That's an idea I've thought about. I don't know what a full- or half-page ad brings in the Trib these days. That audience is often older folks accustomed to print media. The reason that this protest works the way it does is 1990s-vintage law. Resistance to government increases in fees/taxes at that time knew nothing about the Internet or email. The courts have ruled against email protests, because they can be gamed so well, and so we are left with the difficult way to do things. That doesn't mean that significant resistance can't happen.

I'll donate $50.00 to such an ad as long as it includes a copy of the protest letter to be sent in.

Lionel, I'd like to suggest we raise money to take out an ad in the Trib to explain the issue of how these types of protest votes work. I find it hard to believe that a government agency like the city can raise rates without a public vote FOR the raise instead of a vote AGAINST a raise, especially since the city has not done an audit of Recology's real finances. That to me is the issue to protest and I think if we could afford to properly educate our neighbors about this process that we could be successful in stopping this awful practice by our city and its franchisee.

Rich, you're very welcome. I hope that people will download the form, copy it, and share it with family, neighbors, and friends who pay these very high Recology bills here in Pacifica. The only way we will slow the rate of increase is for politicians to start seeing numbers of protests that will make them think about their re-election prospects.

Lionel, thanks for the form. The sweetheart deal between our City Council and Recology is obvious; Recology is now (once again) getting the payoff for taking over Coastside Scavenger's debt by passing it on to ratepayers. It could not be more obvious or more crooked.

"The council's reaction to the third rate hike in 18 months from Recology? Nothing, nada, zilch. It asked staff no questions and had no comments."

Is there some deal that we don't know about between city income and Recology revenues?

Chris, if they had any objection and/or concern about the increase, they were free to express it at this meeting. They have the power to alter and/or reject increases in the contract. They negotiated this contract. They just don't care.


It was my assumption that more extensive discussion would take place during the upcoming Nov. 28 public hearing. Am I wrong about this?

I watched the City Council hearing on the Recology item on PCT26's website. PCT has the October 10 meeting on demand at
The council's reaction to the third rate hike in 18 months from Recology? Nothing, nada, zilch. It asked staff no questions and had no comments.
Next time one of the council members bleats something about improving the business climate or helping his or her constituents here in Pacifica, remember this.

"What does the city have to gain with higher garbage rates? More franchise fee money!!"

That was true before the lawsuit settlement. The city's income is capped at $805,000 per year, more than it has ever received. You'd think that this would remove any incentive to jack rates up further, but see what happens.

"Chalk it up to local control. If the county contracted for our garbage services, experience suggests we'd be paying more than Pacifica for inferior service."

Here in Pacifica, we have, in theory, local control. What it has meant is no oversight of the garbage company and high rates before other communities experienced them.

Our local sanitary districts in Montara/Moss Beach and in El Granada, with their locally elected directors, negotiate for our garbage and recycling services. These are currently the only governments functioning well for the citizens of these unincorporated communities. Chalk it up to local control. If the county contracted for our garbage services, experience suggests we'd be paying more than Pacifica for inferior service.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't City Council promise no changes to the service fee structure?

What does the city have to gain with higher garbage rates? More franchise fee money!!

Enough is enough. Rates are going up all across the Peninsula, and in every news story I have read, the waste contractor is Recology. City Council needs to hold the line on rate increases and protect our battered homeowners and businesses.

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