League of Women Voters Talks Trash to San Diego Rules Committee

by on June 20, 2016 · 6 comments

in Culture, Election, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

trash canBy Anne Haule / San Diego Free Press

Last Wednesday – June 15th – the League of Women Voters of San Diego called for a revote of a hundred year old law.

Representing the League was Beryl Flom, who addressed the city of San Diego’s Rules Committee regarding the overhaul of a law called the People’s Ordinance. She requested the measure be placed on the November ballot.

Originally enacted in 1919, The People’s Ordinance allowed the city to take over food waste and trash collection from a private company that sold it to pig farmers. It was amended in 1986 to prohibit the city from imposing a fee for trash hauling service.

The People’s Ordinance only applies to single-family households who put their bins on public streets — not multi-unit buildings, businesses or commercial establishments — and requires $47 million from the General Fund to operate. Twenty-three percent of the city’s trash is collected from about half of the city’s households through the People’s Ordinance.

City Council President Sherri Lightner chaired the June 15 meeting, which was attended by committee members, Vice Chair Marti Emerald, and councilmembers Myrtle Cole, Mark Kersey and Chris Cate. They referred the matter to the Environmental Services Committee.

Marti Emerald stated it was time to rescind the People’s Ordinance for a number of reasons – including the fact that it would be consistent with the recently adopted Climate Action Plan. She also said it’s unfair to provide free services to single-family homeowners only, and that the city could use the additional revenue generated by charging all residents for refuse collection.

Also in support of a revote of the People’s Ordinance, which the League states “would clarify and equalize trash collecting services for all residents and businesses,” are the Grand Jury, Countywide Integrated Waste Management Citizens Advisory Committee, Zero Waste San Diego, the City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the Stakeholder’s Plan contracted by the City Council, the Environmental Services Department, the San Diego Taxpayers and the San Diego County Apartment Association.

Referring the matter to the Environmental Services Committee means the initiative would likely not be placed on the November ballot.

Following are some notes of interest, which were part of a document provided by the League of Women Voters to the public at the meeting:

  • During the recession in 2008, the amount of trash collected fell 40 percent and the tipping fee income at Miramar Landfill fell correspondently. This was due to a less robust economy and a significant increase in recycling and reduction of trash.
  • In 2011, AB 341 set the recycling goal for the state to 75 percent by 2020. San Diego responded by mandating recycling in larger buildings and businesses. The city also passed an ordinance to require 50 percent recycling for Construction and Demolition materials (C&D); this was recently increased to 65 percent.
  • In 2013, the city did a waste composition study and found that 76 percent of what goes into the landfill could be recycled or diverted, which indicates education and collection of the three waste streams needs to be increased.
  • Automated black and blue cans are offered to all qualified residents. Automated green containers are offered to 40,000 out of 289,000 households due to limited funding. However 150,000 of them have greens collection without automated containers.
  • The costs involved in providing expanded automated greenery collection is $13.6 million in containers, $4.3 million in trucks and $6 million per year in increased operating costs, for a total of $23.9 million. The result would be a diversion of 20,000 tons from the landfill per year.
  • The Zero Waste Plan was approved by the City Council in 2013 and the first implementation plan dated June 2015 includes amending the franchise agreements, maximizing education, increasing enforcement, and allocating additional resources to the City Recycling Ordinance (CRO) including a Resource Recovery Park and expanded Greenery.
  • The estimated cost of the Resource Recovery Park is $10 million in capital costs. Operating costs would be paid using the income from fees.
  • AB 1826 mandates organics out of the landfills starting with the largest producers of food waste. Thirty-nine percent of the waste dumped at Miramar Landfill is organic material.
  • San Diego may have to truck organics to Orange County, Hemet and Victorville because there are not enough digesters and compost sites. Some food can be given to charities.
  • Beginning in April 1, 2016, AB 1826 requires that those who generate eight cubic yards or more of organic waste must separate it from their trash and pay for its collection. By January 1, 2019, those with more than four cubic yards of solid waste will be required to separate and pay to have organic materials collected. The city has just amended the Solid Waste Collection Franchise Agreements to require private haulers to comply with AB 1826.
  • It is argued that the People’s Ordinance is no longer fair because approximately half of the city’s households do not live in single family residences on public streets and have to pay for trash collection. This is due to the tremendous growth of multifamily buildings.
  • The Environmental Services Department is faced with less income from Miramar Landfill due to competition from private landfills and decreasing trash as people recycle and repurpose. Their proposed solutions are to increase fees at Miramar for the franchised and private haulers; raise the fees for multifamily buildings, commercial and businesses; or require the haulers to only use the Miramar Landfill, but they will price Miramar right out of the market as we approach zero waste.
  • If it passed, the League recommends that the City devise a “pay as you throw” fee schedule and continue to do the collection from single family households which they do very efficiently.
  • The League suggests improvements include providing hauling service of trash, recyclables, greens and organics for every residential and business unit in the city.
  • Fees would be reinvested into programs aimed to reach zero waste and improve greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page Geoff Page June 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Can someone explain to me why the League of Women Voters involved itself in this issue? I’m not sure I understand how trash collection and city budget considerations became something they felt they needed to weigh in on.


Chris June 20, 2016 at 3:48 pm

If they want a cause, how about we rescind the San Diego Zoo line item property tax, EVERY homeowner pays in city of San Diego at the same time? I need my trash picked up, and as much as I enjoy the zoo, I do not need to be forced to pad their revenues.


Sara June 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

It’s already fair. People who own homes pay property taxes. People who rent do not.


Geoff Page Geoff Page June 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

Well, this was what I was thinking too. I never considered it a “free” service because our taxes paid for it, nothing is free when it comes to government services.


South OB Girl June 20, 2016 at 9:05 pm

I’m pretty sure the League doesn’t consider many topics off limits.  Quite the nature of the League as well to be interested in trash.  Trash and trash collection are pretty major concerns in society.  The League is active in many things — and also met for a memorial walk this weekend to honor the passing of a local woman.   


South OB Girl June 21, 2016 at 10:57 am

For more information on the League of Women Voters:
The League is active in many issues. If you have additional issues and concerns you feel the League should be involved in the League would most likely be very open to hearing about them.


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