Calls made to repeal trash laws from 1932 

As the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meets Wednesday to decide a battle between two trash companies, Budget Analyst Harvey Rose has taken the opportunity to recommend city officials ask voters to repeal trash laws of 1932 that has allowed Recology to enjoy a no-bid trash collection contract for decades.

“Refuse collection in the City is governed by the City’s Refuse Collection and Disposal Ordinance of 1932, as previously approved by the voters of San Francisco, which requires that only permitted refuse haulers collect and transport refuse ‘through the streets of the City and County of San Francisco.’ The ordinance created 97 permanent permits, which, due to a number of acquisitions since the ordinance was approved, are currently all owned by Recology,” Rose’s report says.

While what is before the committee Wednesday is a landfill contract, Rose said trash hauling services should be competitively bid.

“Competitive bidding could potentially result in reduced refuse collection rates for residents and businesses in San Francisco,” the report says.

“The City’s Refuse Collection and Disposal Ordinance of 1932 has resulted in Recology becoming the City’s permanent and exclusive refuse collection firm, without Recology ever having undergone the City’s normal competitive bidding process,” Rose says in the report. Rose, notes, however, that in 1993 and 1994 voters rejected two measures to amend the 1932 laws.

Said Recology spokesman Adam Alberti: “We welcome the public policy debate.”

Alberti said the system in place has allowed for The City to meet record recycling rates, charge customers competitive trash pick up rates along with a high level of service. “We believe it works.”

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said, “Largely speaking, there needs to be a complete reform the city’s franchise laws in all the utilities. The fact that any kind of utility can exist in perpetuity — except for a very high bar to replace them— calls into question why do we have to under serve rate payers by not having a more competitive process.”

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