Richardson/Gonzalez/Andrews Advocate ("Request A Study") Letting City Hall Grant Lucrative Franchises To Waste Hauling Firms On City Hall-Set Prices/Terms To Handle LB Businesses/Apts; Supporters Tout Efficiency With Enviro Benefits; Opponents Say Ending Competition/Choice On Price/Terms/Services Would Hurt Consumers/Renters is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(May 22, 2017, 5:15 a.m.) -- Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, joined by Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Dee Andrews, have agendized an item for the May 23 City Council meeting that advocates, and directs city management to "conduct a study" on implementing, a change that would give City Hall power to grant lucrative franchises to waste hauling firms.

The change would let City Hall set prices and terms that its chosen franchisees would charge LB businesses and apartment owners, ending choices on price/terms/services that businesses/apartment managers currently make from among competing firms.

[Scroll down for further.]

In their agendizing memo, Richardson-Gonzalez/Andrews say the change would bring benefits by [agendizing memo text] "limiting inefficient overlapping truck routes, environmental, health, and safety impacts, unnecessary wear and tear on local streets and alleys" while establishing "a pipeline for local jobs and training."

The Council can't implement the change immediately because a state law requires the City to give a "five year notice" of the possible change to the nearly-dozen independent firms now operating in the city...which the agenda item proposes to do.



In December 2016, over the objections of L.A. business and apartment owner interests, the L.A. City Council approved handing out exclusive franchise contracts to City Hall-chosen waste hauling companies who'll get the business, charging prices and applying standards set by L.A. City Hall. The change, which ends the ability of property owners and managers to hire from among competing waste hauling firms offering the best prices or terms of service for them, was a policy priority of the pro-organized labor "Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy" (LAANE).

In 2015, LAANE produced an advocacy/policy report on how other cities could implement similar changes, titled Cleaning Up Waste and Recycling Management and Securing the Benefits: A Blueprint for Cities. The Richardson-Gonzalez-Andrews agendizing memo echoes a number of LAANE's arguments.

While not a co-agendizer on the May 23 item, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce (who took office in mid-July 2016) cited her work with LAANE in her successful 2nd district election campaign.

Financial disclosure forms on the City Clerk's website show that during the second half of 2015, Mayor Robert Garcia used his "officeholder account" (contributions from friendly contributors) to give $2,500 to LAANE for what it describes as "sponsorship/ad."


Sponsor: Computer Repair Long Beach

On its website, LAANE states: "Our Don't Waste LA and Don't Waste Long Beach campaigns are working to transform the system for waste and recycling in these communities. We are working to eliminate our dependence on landfills, dirty trucks, and dangerous jobs. We do this by advocating for more environmentally-sustainable practices in the waste and recycling industries, and supporting the creation of good, green jobs We have two projects focused on waste and recycling: Don't Waste LA and Don't Waste Long Beach. Our goals in both these communities are to transform the system for waste and recycling in our businesses and residences and eliminating our dependence on landfills, dirty trucks, and dangerous jobs."

Co-agendizers Richardson, Gonzalez and Andrews seek Council action on May 23 without any preceding Council committee hearings on their proposal (at which members of the public and stakeholders could comment prior to full Council action.)



The proposal is opposed by the "Better Housing for Long Beach" (a landlord-affiliated group) and by the Council of Neighborhood Organizations (CONO), a previously dormant grassroots group recently revitalized by Robert Fox (who owns a number of multi-unit residential buildings.)

On its Facebook page, "Better Housing for Long Beach" says "the right to select your own trash hauler is in jeopardy" and "in cities where this trash monopoly program has been implemented the monthly cost for trash pickup rose 300% in 12 months. This is not good for affordable housing, renters, condo owners, small business owners or property owners. Long Beach community members will bear this price increase burden for years to come." In a mass emailing, CONO stated that while it supports the concept of going green, proponents of the move locally are "notorious for subterfuge and packaging anti-business policies into family-friendly Trojan horses."


Below is the full text of the Richardson-Gonzalez-Andrews agendizing memo:


Request the City Manager to work with the Department of Public Works to conduct a study exploring options to improve the private commercial waste hauling system in Long Beach, placing an emphasis on limiting inefficient overlapping truck routes, environmental, heath, and safety impacts, unnecessary wear and tear on local streets and alleys, and establishing a pipeline for local jobs and training.

Secondly, request the City Manager to issue a 5-year notification to City-permitted private waste haulers in order to explore allowing modification of our current private waste hauling system into an exclusive franchise system, and report back to the City Council on the progress semi-annually.


The Problem

Currently in the City of Long Beach, there are two different waste systems. The City's Environmental Services Bureau is responsible for collection at single-family and small multi-family dwellings (less than 10 units), while the City permits 15 private haulers to collect waste and recyclables from commercial businesses and larger apartment complexes (10+ units). While the City's residential waste system is a model program, recognized as "Nation's Best Solid Waste Management Program," the private waste hauling system is fragmented and potentially unsafe.

Long Beach residents, particularly those in multifamily residences or that live near commercial corridors, are exposed to quality of life impacts due to inefficient, overlapping waste routes. Instances of overlapping waste routes in residential neighborhoods are prevalent throughout the City. At times, there can be at least six different waste companies who collect waste throughout the week in only a half mile block. The result is a constant flow of trucks driving up the streets and in alleyways on a daily basis, increasing public safety risks, air and noise pollution, and unnecessary wear and tear on local streets and alleyways.

Of concern in dense areas, where families do not have private yards and experience heavy traffic, is the increased risk of traffic accidents. Parking can be a premium near multifamily units, and many cars line the streets. As a result, waste trucks are forced to park in the middle of the road while they perform collection duties, thereby obstructing traffic flows and drastically limiting traffic sight lines. This can lead to potential hazards, which is exacerbated by the number of companies who serve an area. In order to combat inefficient waste truck routes, many cities choose to create an exclusive franchising system for private haulers. An exclusive franchise system is where a limited number of haulers has the right to collect waste in a given area, but the hauler operates under the terms of a franchise agreement with the City. The franchise agreement governs quality and quantity of service, as well as designates the place of disposal of waste and recyclables. Cities competitively award contracts for exclusive rights of service to the most qualified bidder. This competitive process can create opportunities to partner with local educational institutions to establish a pipeline for local jobs and training for Long Beach residents who seek a career in the waste hauling industry.

The City of Long Beach should explore a move to an exclusive franchise system in order to, in part, reduce the amount of unnecessary truck traffic caused by inefficient routing systems and the related impacts on all Long Beach residents, businesses, and their quality of life. These impacts include stresses to public health and air quality, noise pollution, traffic congestion, and excessive wear and tear on our roads and alleyways. Solid waste collection vehicles can have over 9,300 times the relative pavement impact per trip as an SUV. The City requires non-exclusive franchise haulers to use clean fuel fleets, but even these vehicles emit pollutants such as carbon dioxide, so reducing unnecessary truck traffic is imperative for community and environmental health.

Through converting to an exclusive franchising system, cities can better enforce environmental and safety standards through contract provisions with businesses without impacting its own budget. Cities can also be in a position to require private haulers to improve recycling rates, and more effectively hold private haulers accountable to compliance with new state requirements. Recently, California adopted a goal for 75 percent statewide recycling by 2020 (AB 341); mandatory commercial recycling collection requirements (AB 341); mandatory commercial organics recycling collection by 2019 for most businesses, (AS 1826); and a state-wide requirement to divert 75 percent of organic waste from landfills by 2025, including recovering 25 percent of edible food by 2025 (SS 1383). A move to an exclusive franchise system could provide tools to implement these new state requirements, and ensure all haulers and applicable business and multi-family customers are in compliance, without increasing strain on City resources.

California Public Resource Code 49520 states that a local agency that has authorized private waste collection for at least three previous years must give five years notice to those waste companies prior to considering a move to an exclusive franchise waste collection system. The 5-year notification letter being requested will not commit the City to any specific course of action, but rather, will allow the City to consider changes to the current system.

Fiscal Impact

There is no significant fiscal impact for the issuance of the 5-year notification to private waste haulers. Funding will be required to study options to improve the private commercial waste hauling system.

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