Palo Alto moves toward post-PASCO future

Customers may have to pay extra for side-yard collection and zero-waste efforts

To prepare for the search for Palo Alto's next waste hauler, the City Council unanimously -- with Councilman Bern Beecham absent -- agreed with 12 recommendations proposed by city staff Monday.

The recommendations strive to ensure the city picks the best company for the $80 million, eight-year contract that would take effect in July 2009, according to Public Works Director Glenn Roberts.

The new hauler is likely to replace the Palo Alto Sanitation Co. (PASCO), which has collected the city's trash for 56 years. PASCO was purchased by the national firm, Waste Management, Inc., several years ago.

The city is having contract disputes with PASCO, but overall has been pleased with its service, Roberts said.

The next company should be selected by next July, Roberts said.

The recommendations include:

* Interested companies would be asked to bid separately on items, such as expanded recycling and food composting, that are part of the goal to reduce the city's waste to near-zero by 2021, when additional costs are expected to top $4 million, Roberts has said.

* Customers, excluding the elderly and disabled residents, would have to pay more for side or backyard collections, which have traditionally been included in basic rates.

* Curbside collections would be favored.

* Companies that offer to retain existing PASCO employees at current pay levels would be favored in the selection process.

* The city would offer use of its Geng Road property (currently housing PASCO) for customer service and other needs, but most vehicle storage would need to be outside the city.

* The city's existing composting facility at the landfill would remain at least until 2011, and in 2009 the chosen company would be responsible for taking food waste, primarily from restaurants, to a regional facility.

* The company would be required to continue single-stream (all in one container) recycling.

* The company would have to take construction and demolition waste to a facility that finds another use for at least 70 percent of the material.

* The city hopes to have only one contract that covers waste collection and processing.

* Only one company would be chosen to serve the city.

* The contract would last for a maximum of 12 years.

* The company would receive a fixed-price, with potential adjustments and incentives for saving material from the landfill.

The council is expected to approve the final request-for-proposals document to be given to interested companies in December, Roberts said.

In other business, the council voted 6-2, with Kleinberg and Klein opposed, to search for a consultant to help it evaluate the four city employees that report directly to the council: City Manager Frank Benest, City Attorney Gary Baum, City Auditor Sharon Erickson and City Clerk Donna Rogers.

Kleinberg and Klein said they think the city can save the $25,000 to $30,000 expense if the council organizes the annual evaluations itself.

The decision of which consultant, if any, will be left to the next council, which as of January will have four new members.

(Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Waste-Not
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 12:50 pm

> The city is having contract disputes with PASCO,
> but overall has been pleased with its service,
> Roberts said.

This certainly seems like good reason to look for a new vendor.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Prediction: Palo Alto will not find any company willing to fulfill its wishlist, at the price offered. This is just a negotiating ploy. PASCO will be back.

Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Knowing our city council and how they manage our money, they will end up finding a company that does half of what PASCO does now at twice the price.

Like this comment
Posted by pessimist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2007 at 10:30 am

I second Marvin's comment. I think PASCO's service is by far the best I've ever experienced, and I've lived in a LOT of different places. The amount we can recycle curbside is astounding! To top it off, they crews are always very pleasant and efficient. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Ooopps, I just received the memo from the ideal world folks. We're not at zero waste (in spite of the progress we've steadily made) and we must at all costs get there by yesterday. I guess PASCO has got to go for some other company that has empty promises.

Like this comment
Posted by Floyd S. Kessler
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:39 pm

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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