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October 16, 2014


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The original contract with Recology was for five years, BUT there were three years left on Louie's contract that were tacked on to the Recology contract, giving it eight years in actuality.

At the time, a City Council member asked me if five years was good with me, and I said yes, not knowing or being properly informed of the additional three remaining years of Coastside's contracted being added to the five years I was told about. I called the council member back and asked WTF, but she (no longer a council member) just said in effect OOPS. I'm glad she's gone, but the whole Coastside/Recology affair was never a straight-up, honest, out-in the-open deal.

Whatever the current circumstances and obligations, the reason contracts are for a proscribed period of time is to provide an opportunity to make changes.

If everyone is happy, then there is nothing wrong with a rubber-stamp renewal of a monopoly of some service. If there are questions about whether citizens are getting the best deal available, then contracts should be put out to bid. What is being bid on must be clearly and comprehensively stated so any bids can be judged apples to apples. There should be no requirement to accept the lowest bid due to all the considerations beyond simple dollar charges that are involved. And there should be an opportunity for the public to comment on competing bids. Pretty obvious and simple, really.

Here's a reminder of how bankrupt Coastside Scavenger was at the time of the Recology takeover:

They were in breach of their contract with the City of Pacifica, and officials acted like sheep.

Comparing Hillsborough to Pacifica is like comparing Ferraris to Pintos!

Sorry, Lionel, but you are wrong. Louie had the right to sell, and Recology fulfilled all the criteria in the contract to buy. There was no backroom deal involved and no bid was necessary. Any contrary propaganda is on your side, my friend. You have been telling this half-baked tale for so long, I almost think you believe it is true. As I stated previously, Recology's purchase bid was not the only bid Louie received. The city had no right to put the contract out to bid. Most people are paying less than they were in 2007, so why do you keep up this pretense? Bob, all you had to do was leave a message and I would have called you back. Please do so as I would like to have an intelligent discussion about facts and not myths.

P.S. I will continue to say that Steve Rhodes was one of the best city managers this city ever had.

Hillsborough isn't a good example for price comparisons. $27.50 is the monthly bill, but there's also a $25/month charge that's added to the property tax bill. See


The contract Chris references as being the same as that of the former Coastside Scavengers has a built-in 8 percent profit for the company. This means the more inefficient the company is, the more profit it is guaranteed. Sweet setup for any monopoly franchise agreement. But our bill is half of what it once was, and Chris has bent the rules for me once or twice, so while it is a cage match of financial justification, I'm good with it for now -- and I mean for now.

That the people of Pacifica pay more for their solid-waste collection than do the people of Hillsborough came as quite a surprise to this old man. In reference to Recology fees/invoices, I called Chris Porter on Monday in an effort to discuss her defense of the cost of Recology’s service here, but she wasn’t available for a phone conversation. Suffice it to say that Chris had advanced a nice factual summary on Riptide justifying the price the people of Pacifica pay to have Recology pick up their sorted garbage and get rid of it. In that sense, Chris “justified” and explained away the fact that the people of Pacifica pay a higher solid-waste collection fee than do the residents of Hillsborough. It appears that the situation at City Hall, vis-a-vis the price of solid-waste collection, will go on until competitive bidding becomes a reality in our garbage collection scenario.

All propaganda to the contrary, the Recology contract was a backroom/no-bid agreement. If the City Council had had any concern for the ratepayers, it would have put the contract out to bid. Certainly our former city manager Steve Rhodes had no concern for the ratepayers either.

A competitive bidding process is the only fair and PUBLIC way to hash it out, and that's what we deserve when this contract is up.

Numbers don't lie, but people certainly do.

Chris: Thanks for answering that. Your posts are very informative and fact based. Maybe you should just tell people who want to know to go down to City Hall and ask Kathy for Recology's contract.

Just like in comedy, it's the delivery/timing and subject. If the comic's delivery and timing are off, the jokes are just not funny. Maybe you should consider where the consumer is coming from. When City Council does things in a Pentagon style of secrecy, the public starts tuning them out, thinking they are a bunch of crooks. Every time city officials deal with utilities and set them up as a monopoly, it is bad for the consumer. Just like Comcast is the only cable company. Comcast was forced upon us by City Council. Use it, or use Direct TV or Dish, or be stuck using AT&T.

When you're on constant attack mode regarding Recology, it is almost suspect. Maybe it's just me, but when I contact a company, I want problem resolution, not excuses or rhetoric.

The only issue I have with Recology is more of a City Council issue: When recycling goals are met, the city gets the money. WTH? The citizens sort through and separate the trash and the city gets the check. It would be better if this were sent back to the ratepayers or given to charity. Watching City Council blunder and spend its way into an "unaccounted for" $4 million, it cannot be trusted with money.

The former owner had received three separate offers. It was his choice who to sell to.

The information I provided was to have an open and honest discussion on how rates are set. To ignore commercial income and franchise fees as a large portion of the equation for setting rates doesn't make sense.

Sorry, Jill, but I always feel understanding comes from knowledge.

Chris, were there any other offers besides Recology to take over for Louie?

"That cities with much higher per capita income (& residential values) pay much less in garbage (sic) fees suggests (once again) incompetence/chicanery at City Hall."

The fault lies with City Hall, though -- how did they figure this one out? Perhaps we should hire a finance manager after all. Just so we don't continue to head toward bankruptcy.

"To compare rates without additional information" -- well, here's hoping we're paying by the word.

To compare rates without additional information does not show the accurate picture. Our surrounding cities have huge commercial bases like Daly City with Westlake, Serramonte, and King Plaza; San Bruno with Tanforan, Bayhill, and Towne Center; South San Francisco with the San Francisco International Airport, Grand Avenue; and San Mateo with Hillsdale and the new Bay Meadows construction. All these cities have the large commercial base to help offset the residential fees. Half of our commercial customers use a 30-gallon cart and we have only 425 commercial customers. Daly City does not even offer the 20-gallon rate, which more than 51 percent of our customers subscribe to. The second factor is the franchise fee. The City of Pacifica has a 12 percent franchise fee, with San Mateo having a 4 percent one and El Granada and Montara/Moss Beach having a 2 percent one. Pacifica has composting with food that Daly City does not have (small pilot program going on right now). Processing food with the greenwaste costs one and a half times the dollar amount for direct disposal at Ox Mountain, but it is because of this program and many of our other recycling programs that the City of Pacifica is in such positive standing with our Climate Action Plan. We take away all the debris picked up by the Pacifica Beach Coalition for free, which is a large expense that is removed from this organization.

I have been asked why Pacifica is higher than El Granada and Montara/Moss Beach, which have fewer commercial customers than Pacifica. Again, each of those district has only 3,000 customers and service 2-1/2 days per week with a franchise fee of 2 percent. They also have chosen not to participate in the food waste program and have greenwaste pickup only. They also use only two of the three cans provided to Pacificans.

Again, a history lesson for new readers. Coastside Scavenger/Seacoast Disposal was PURCHASED by Recology in 2010 and morphed into Recology of the Coast. This PURCHASE was approved by the City of Pacifica and the Montara Water and Sanitary District and the Granada Sanitary District. All past-due franchise fees were paid by the previous owner of the companies, not Recology. This was a business deal, and where "chicanery" comes in is beyond me. This "backdoor deal" revising of history needs to be put to bed. We have brought this city to close to 75 percent diversion by our innovative recycling programs and listening to our customers' concerns. We are one of the only cities that accepts medical sharps, paint, motor oil, and tires at our site. We are the ONLY city that recycles cooking oil, at the urging of my friend Nancy Hall.

When Recology of the Coast came into existence, only 10 percent of Coastside Scavenger's customers were using a 20-gallon cart. By establishing single-stream recycling and new programs, we now have 51 percent of our customers using a 20-gallon cart, the highest rate in San Mateo County. Many of these people reduced from a 30-gallon can, which means these customers with this 1.87 percent increase are paying 17 percent less than they did in 2007. There was no rate increase requested in year 2014 and only a 1.87 percent increase for 2015. Recology of the Coast is working very hard to keep its expenses in check and work among ourselves to streamline operations where possible.

Lionel and Bob: Read closely what I wrote above and then call me if you want to discuss this further.

Laurie: I have no idea what your point is.

Chart courtesy of the "Garbage Gab Rag" -- palindrome lovers' magazine for Talking Trash.

Note: Pacifica Recology collectors claim they do a better job than anyone else -- a claim that palindrome lovers call a "garbage mega-brag."

I think this is getting recycled at the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce.

That cities with much higher per capita income (& residential values) pay much less in garbage (sic) fees suggests (once again) incompetence/chicanery at City Hall. Lionel deserves a medal for his contributions (if not a pizza & a glass of wine). It's really important for the residents/city to elect our slate.

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