LA WATCHDOG--The five members of the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee will have the opportunity on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall to unload their frustrations on the seven waste haulers over the 28,000 service complaints received by the City in connection with the botched rollout of the City’s monopolistic Commercial Waste Exclusive Franchise System.
Based on the 64 page report by the Bureau of Sanitation, the meeting will focus on the service failures, the status of the rollout, the steps that are being taken to remedy the situation, and the ability of the City to enforce the terms of the franchise agreements through a series of liquidated damages (otherwise known as fines).
But will the Committee discuss the “sticker shock” associated with the Exclusive Trash Franchise as rates “have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled, with the inclusion of new fee assessments that did not exist under previous hauler agreements” according to City Councilman Mike Bonin?
Renters in apartment buildings with five or more units will be hit with an estimated $10 to $20 a month increase as the added cost for the Exclusive Trash Franchise will be passed through to the tenants by landlords. This amounts to $120 to $240 a year. While this added expense may be chump change to tenants living in the newly constructed luxury high rise apartments in Hollywood, to the average Angeleno this is serious money.
Unfortunately, this hit on renters was never discussed by the proponents of the monopolistic Exclusive Trash Franchise because Mayor Garcetti and the members of the City Council were confident that they could dump the blame for this price increase on the evil private sector waste haulers and the money grubbing landlords.
Renters should not expect any help from the members of the City Council or Mayor Garcetti. They will not own up to their poor judgment in selecting the Exclusive Trash Franchise system over a non-exclusive system that was proposed by then City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, even though the non-exclusive system would have resulted in lower prices and better service while ensuring the same environmental benefits.
Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, and Jose Huizar, as members of the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Waste Reduction, were strong proponents of the Exclusive Trash Franchise system as they were unwilling to stand up to the Teamsters union, the environmental community, and the social justice warriors such as the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), a business unfriendly organization that is a pet project of Amy Wakeland, the wife of Mayor Garcetti.
Eric Garcetti was also a proponent of the very expensive Exclusive Trash Franchise, not only in his current role as mayor, but as a member of the City Council. The Mayor has also hired Greg Good, a former LAANE operative who spearheaded the Don’t Waste LA project, as a high priced member of his office.
As such, the prospect of any relief is slim as the goals of the special interests trump the wallets of the rent burdened tenants.
The Committee should also delve into the administration and enforcement of the Exclusive Trash Franchise and how the $35 million in franchise fees will be spent. According to informed sources, over half of the franchise fees will be treated as a tax and diverted to the General Fund to pay for increased salaries and pension contributions for City employees.
The Committee should also direct the Bureau of Sanitation to analyze why the cost of trash collections for businesses, multifamily buildings, homeowners associations will balloon by not a very modest 50%, from $225 million to $350 million a year.
Angelenos are owed the truth about the economics of the Exclusive Trash Franchise, even if puts our Elected Elite in an unfavorable light. After all, transparency is a key component of the Mayor Garcetti’s Back to Basics agenda.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)