News

Palo Altans to protest garbage-fee hikes tonight

City's refuse-fund gap stems in part from residents and businesses doing too good of a job reducing waste and increasing recycling

Palo Alto residents are trashing the city's plan to start charging more for garbage collection.

The city's proposed new rates include a 33 percent spike for 20-gallon mini-cans, which the city encourages residents use as part of its waste-reduction goals. The residential rate for these would go from $15 per month to $20.

Residents using the standard 32-gallon garbage cart would see a 6 percent increase (from $31 to $32.86).

Public Works Department officials and City Council members hope the new rates will help them close a gaping budget hole in the refuse fund, a hole that was exacerbated by the city's environmentally successful but financially draining green efforts.

The council will discuss the issue tonight at its meeting, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at City Hall. If approved, the rates would take effect Oct. 1.

Many residents find it sadly ironic, and in some cases infuriating, that the customers who see the highest fee increase are those who have heeded the city's call to help the environment by shrinking the amount of waste they toss.

More than 100 customers had sent official protest letters to the city as of the middle of last week.

"Excuse Me?!!" wrote customer Nancy Brown, who called the fee-increase proposal "ridiculous."

"Please think a little more creatively, and if you still feel the need to charge us more -- how about charging the people with the most trash the most money -- not those of us creating the least trash."

Other residents took umbrage at the proposed $14.42 fee for narrow private streets that the city's trash hauler, GreenWaste, deems "hard to service."

Several residents of Ellsworth Place signed protests against the new monthly fee.

"If the garbage company needs more revenue to cover the costs of picking up our garbage, then the city should subsidize the costs as they already save money by not maintaining our private streets."

Gennady Sheyner

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by private is as private does
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

"If the garbage company needs more revenue to cover the costs of picking up our garbage, then the city should subsidize the costs as they already save money by not maintaining our private streets."

Or they could just stop collecting the garbage from private streets.


Like this comment
Posted by Capbreton
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

As in almost every service "offered" to Palo Alto residents, garbage/recycling is already more expensive -- by far -- than what others pay.

After 15 years as a PA resident, I just moved to San Francisco. In Palo Alto I had the "standard" three bins and paid something north of $60/month for that. And once a year I had the option of putting out 4 large items for free pickup.

In SF I pay less than $25/month for the three-bin service -- and I'm up a steep hill so would be facing an only-in-Palo-Alto-would-it-be-possible surcharge for that. So, depending on whether the surcharge goes in or not I pay about $40-$60 less per month for the same service I was receiving in Palo Alto.

Also, I get to put *10* large items of any kind out on the curb *twice* a year without prescheduling and have them picked up for free. So I can toss 20 items a year to Palo Alto's four.

I always felt ripped off by the city in Palo Alto. You should feel ripped off, too.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

While the reason for this increase is a bit silly - we're being too good about reducing waste - there are many towns around the country who don't have garbage pick up at all and you contract with a private company to pick up your waste .


Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:00 am

>"If the garbage company needs more revenue to cover the costs of picking up our garbage,
> then the city should subsidize the costs as they already save money by not maintaining our
>private streets."

>Or they could just stop collecting the garbage from private streets.

Or the city could stop allowing them in the first place.


Like this comment
Posted by Emily
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

Remember: If you want to protest, you need to get a signed letter to the City Clerk by the time of the Hearing tonite. Put your Assessors Parcel Number on the protest.


Like this comment
Posted by Spoiled
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

I wish the city had more money it could use to subsidize the 20 gallon waste-saver bins, too, but as everyone knows money is tight these days even for the city so they would have to take the money away from some other program. So which one would you suggest? How about some progressive pricing - the more waste you produce the more you pay per gallon beyond the 20 first ones? We do that with Electricity already so the concept isn't really that new in the utilities space.

BTW Is it really fair to compare San Francisco with Palo Alto? They are two very different cities. And, the city budget has to balance. Waste removal must be at least as expensive up in the city than it is here and they pride themselves in their green ways. They either collect higher taxes, or pay their city employees less, or don't support some other programs that we value more down here or have found some other way to generate the revenue needed.


Like this comment
Posted by math 101
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:54 am

"Many residents find it sadly ironic, and in some cases infuriating, that the customers who see the highest fee increase are those who have heeded the city's call to help the environment by shrinking the amount of waste they toss."


20gallon at $20 ~ 32gallon at $32.86

Where's the problem?


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Didn't we just sign a contract with this company? Didn't they look at the project BEFORE they bid?

Why are we doing this again? The price was quoted, the project committed and now they are trying to raise the price? We are just being manipulated and the city government is too weak to stand up for the citizens.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Bring back PASCO. I was much happier with my service, I am now just too confused what goes where. Now I wonder why I am even bothering.


Like this comment
Posted by E.S.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Some write that "the city should subsidize" added costs. The city is "us." I produce so little garbage that my 20 gal. garbage container and my recycling container go out to the curb at most once a month, when they are full. The compostable materials container goes out at most twice a month. And yet I pay the same as those who fill containers every week. We do have it good compared to many places where, as some have written, there is less frequent pickup or none.


Like this comment
Posted by Up-Up-Up!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm

> What's the problem?/

Well .. let's look at the cost increases we can expect with a nomical 4% per year increase in the cost of trash pickup:

Year Little Big
---- ------ -----
2010 $20.00 $32.00
2011 $20.80 $33.28
2012 $21.63 $34.61
2013 $22.50 $36.00
2014 $23.40 $37.44
2015 $24.33 $38.93
2016 $25.31 $40.49
2017 $26.32 $42.11
2018 $27.37 $43.79
2019 $28.47 $45.55
2020 $29.60 $47.37
2021 $30.79 $49.26
2022 $32.02 $51.23
2023 $33.30 $53.28
2024 $34.63 $55.41
2025 $36.02 $57.63
2026 $37.46 $59.94
2027 $38.96 $62.33
2028 $40.52 $64.83
2029 $42.14 $67.42
2030 $43.82 $70.12
2031 $45.58 $72.92
2032 $47.40 $75.84
2033 $49.29 $78.87
2034 $51.27 $82.03
2035 $53.32 $85.31
2036 $55.45 $88.72
2037 $57.67 $92.27
2038 $59.97 $95.96
2039 $62.37 $99.80
2040 $64.87 $103.79
2041 $67.46 $107.94

(Oh, and don't forget there is a 7-8% Utility Tax tacked on this monthly fee.)

So .. what's the problem? The cost is growing out of sight! Better to begin to consider other ways to deal with the trash, such as home disposal units, and/or private services.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Let's see. Greenie signed a contract - nothing changed from the time they signed that contract - WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF CONTRACTS!!!
Unless the City committed fraud to induce Greenie to sign, they either eat their mistake or forfeit the contract and pay the penalty for doing so. If the City allows Greenie another bite of the apple then all the losing bidders get another bite, too. Resident, I agree with you, as will any builder. I think we need to contract out the city's legal services. Those Hamilton Avenue Hotshots are so busy justifying an independent Palo Alto foreign policy and racing to stay ahead of Davis in the Environmental one-up race that mundane contracts are left to Nolo Press software and a junior clerk.
Incidentally, The January issue of Pollution Engineering had an excellent article on mechanical sorting systems. They deliver a better recycling stream and require less manual labor.


Like this comment
Posted by Up-Up-Up!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

> They deliver a better recycling stream and require
> less manual labor.

Yeah .. these have been appearing here and there for a while --

Automated Trash Sorter:
Web Link

But how about here in Palo Alto, or at the locations where the City has contracts? Palo Alto's government is run by, or might as well be run by, the labor unions representing the City's employees. The City Council seems genuinely unaware of anything associated with automation, or cost controls. Sadly, many of the people complaining about these cost increases were those who voted these not-really-fit-to-serve individuals onto the Council.

What's it going to take to get people to stop hugging trees, and begin to think about the future in this town?


Like this comment
Posted by Joel
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I am paying $180 for ONE 20 gallon pick up A Year. It will be raised to
$240 A YEAR for ONE pick up. I compost my food products, I recycle my other products, I garden for knowing how to use the land for my benefit
in a way that helps me and my community, I retrofit my condo through the Palo Alto's utility program to reduce my carbon footprint and utility bill. Who's bill am I paying for besides my own?


Like this comment
Posted by You pays your money
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Is there an option to have *no* garbage bin?


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Another fiasco out of the Public Works Department. And yes, this Council appears to be no better than the last 'many'. And the City gave in to Drekmeier and his greenies and put his deceptive proposal on the ballot to build a anerobic something or other in the Baylands next to Byxbee Park - which will cost millions, not been done in the US before, will be a 24-7 operation with smokestacks, maturing piles, and traffic in and out - and built right at the base of the new park. San Mateo may build one. The entire garbage, recycling, refuse operation, projections, and decisions out of Public Works has been one disaster after another. OFf with their heads.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 20, 2010 at 3:28 pm

We compost and recycle, so our 20 gallon can rarely has more than 5 gallons in it.

I would like to see a 10 gallon size, appropriately priced, for those saving our landfills.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Get ready for it, but protecting the environment does cost money. Protecting the environment is part of why I chose to live in Palo Alto. Palo Alto also spends more on our schools here too.

The debate about trying to enjoy "cheap trash" is short sighted. As our solid waste volumes go down we have numerous fixed costs that are proportioned. Sure other towns might just find it cheaper to dump it and haul it. Most of the costs are in labor and transport, and are beginning to have less connection to the volume.

Ultimately our connection to the environment as it is to schools raises the value and prestige of our community, and contributes to housing values that are high relative to our recession.





Like this comment
Posted by Up-Up-Up!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm

> Protecting the environment is part of why I chose to live in
> Palo Alto. Palo Alto also spends more on our schools here too.

Most people didn't choose to move here for either of these two reasons.

If it turns out that there are small subgoups that want to spend their money this way, the City needs to provide an "opt-out" for the rest of us to don't want to waste our money the way this person does.

If he wants to save the environment, then send him the bill.


Like this comment
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I disagree with the flat residential charge of $1.03 per gallon. I think they should continue a low cost for mini-can (20 gal.) and charge more for each increase in garbage volume. Our family of 4 doesn't even fill our 20 gallon can each week (but our yard waste, recycling and personal compost bins are full).

Regarding the Hard-to-Serve fees: According to the Staff Report, only 460 are expected to have to pay the additional $14.42/month. That will bring in just $6,633.2 in additional revenues.

If all 21,000 residents payed an extra $0.32/month, the same $6,632 would be raised.

So, add the $3.80/year fee to all residents, and continue with the tiered rates to encourage zero-waste.


Like this comment
Posted by stop'n'think
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm

zero waste = zero revenue
Yes, they are soon going to be charging you to pick up recycling.


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Recycle your own. Get the CA CRV back, you pay it when you buy recyclables anyway. For my family I get over $20 back a month, as much as is needed to pay for a 20 gal trash container.

As for additional labor, well there really is none as I must separate the recyclables either way.





Like this comment
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Looks like the 33% increase for mini-can and the $14.42 adder for hard-to-serve were NOT approved tonight. They did approve 6% increase for all effective October 2010 through September 2011.

However, the cost of service study will go to Council in January 2011 and because Prop. 218 doesn't allow subsidies of one customer class to another, we'll very likely see more rate increases for 2011.


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2010 at 12:24 am

Math 101 wrote:
"Many residents find it sadly ironic, and in some cases infuriating, that the customers who see the highest fee increase are those who have heeded the city's call to help the environment by shrinking the amount of waste they toss."

20gallon at $20 ~ 32gallon at $32.86

Where's the problem?
*********************************
The problem is that this increase is 33% on the smallest can; 10.8 on the 32 gallon; 6% 1 64 gallon or 2 32 gallon cans. And the percentage just keeps decreasing as the volume of people's garbage goes up. I can't believe only 100 people wrote to protest this. (I sure did.) It should be thousands. I find that many people don't read the literature that comes on these subjects. Also, if someone just moved here, maybe they don't think it's too bad, but the chart above about raising it 4% tells the story. They have raised this almost every year. AND, those of us who live in small apartment buildings or condos pay the same a home owners, but the city will not give us each a recycling bin.

Outraged .. Chris


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2010 at 12:30 am

And another thing ... I really mind some of these issues so much except for the hypocrisy of Palo Alto with their "green" mantra. A few years ago, I took my styrofoam packing materials, peanuts, and milk/juice boxes (aseptic) to the baylands recycling. Now we're told we can drive our peanuts over to Fremont and the milk/juice is just garbage. (Stanford recycling takes it.) Palo cares about green, but it's the green of cash.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2010 at 8:01 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Posted by Bob,
"...but protecting the environment does cost money..."
The protection of the environment is speculative at best. Recycling was the response to the "running out of landfill space", another of those Armageddons that are a substitute for religion for those who profess not to profess in a God. By any rational standard the land available for landfill is limitless.

"...The debate about trying to enjoy "cheap trash" is short sighted..." just as spending other people's money is one of life's pleasures, so is spending their time.

Rationalizing three rather than one truck trip, putting an industrial facility on dedicated parkland, banning mercury in medical thermometers while mandating mercury in light bulbs, all these contradictory acts of faith are required of the liberal.
The machine I mentioned would achieve every legitimate goal of the "conservationists" better than hand picking.


Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

Where is a place to take the CA CRV bottles to get money back. (The Sen. Sher's pet project years ago.) I can't find a place in or near Palo Alto where I don't have to spend gas money to recycle. What's the point?


Like this comment
Posted by Carlito ways
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hello neighbors, how are those elected Palo Alto officials you voted for are doing?

The ones I voted for didn't make it, so I guess I had an idea who were the decent ones.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Kate - a link to the CRV refund locator. There is supposed to be one on CA avenue.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm

"The protection of the environment is speculative at best. Recycling was the response to the "running out of landfill space""

Walter,

Look at "trash" as an energy resource, by using plasma arc thermolytic processes to turn it into electrcity, at a profit. Open pit mine the current dump and then return it to a harbor, with much natural open spaces, along with a new yacht harbor. Lower our trash fees along the way. Win-win. Who could be unhappy about all of that?


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

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