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Garbage contract to cost more and raise rates- again!

Original post made by s.krofft, South of Midtown, on Oct 20, 2008

The City Council is being asked to approve a greater than $10M contract for garbage and recycling.City staff negotiated a deal that will end up costing residents and businesses $619K more than the original proposal from Green Waste a few months ago. Our rates are going to go up another 14% according to the staff report.!!!!!

Web Link

Also, according to the report the new garbage company is promising the moon on what can go in the blue wheelie cart. This sounds too good too be true. Will we find out they are really not recycling this stuff but just want us to feel good? Is it being burned in china for energy? How's that for climate change.

They are adding things that city staff previously said could not be recycled (e.g., plastic bags,milk cartons and all kinds of new plastics with no number). When I have called the recycling program in the past they said that the milk cartons get mixed with paper and thrown out later. They said that the plastic bags should only be recycled at the Stanford recycle center, Baylands recycle center, or grocery stores because the bags get tangled in machines and that the bags are so dirty that no one will recycle them and they get thrown away if people put them in the cart. They said that they know this from other cities telling them this and when PA did its blue wheelie cart pilot, they decided not to keep the cartons and bags on the list. So what has changed in the recycling world?

The report says we can put computers and cell phones in the recycle bin. This makes no sense to me to mix bottles and cans with that stuff. When I called the recycle program last month they told me to recycle my computer through Goodwill or Green Citizen for free and when I bought my new cell phone the store offered to recycle my old one for free and that all stores that sell cell phones are required to this.

So the question is why is the City hiring the garbage company to do these things that I can already do for free? I don't want my rates to go up because the City creates services we don't need so the City can say we are not making garbage. I see the amount of garbage people put out on garbage day. Now it will all go in the blue wheelie cart? I like convenience like the next person, but I don't trust this put it all in the cart and the City make it disappear.

No more rate hikes- do things differently? Where is the watchdog group Palo Altans for Government Effectiveness?

Write to Council No more bloated budgets!

Comments (20)

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Posted by Brace Yourself
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 21, 2008 at 1:33 am

You could see a huge increase in our garbage collection rates coming just as soon as it was announced Green Waste would take over from PASCO, but 14%!!!

It's only a matter of time before our water rates take a another huge hike. So far the replacement of all the pipes from hetch hetchy hasn't been factored into our rates. That project will cost many millions.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2008 at 2:18 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Another cost of image.

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Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 21, 2008 at 2:33 am


The Mayor commented on why there were so few citizens at the council meeting who did not speak for or against one of the biggest and expensive issues that they have voted on in a long time. I am not using quotes since I was half asleep, but he said something to that affect.

Our public works director even received a round of applause.

The public works report on this was MASSIVE - I can only imagine how tall a tree (pile) it would make out at the landfill or the recycling center.

As for water rates going up. This is happening all over the state.
We are in serious drought and have been for several years. Most cities have raised their rates to try and curb unnecessary water use.

Water is more valuable than oil.

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Posted by Council Observer
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2008 at 7:41 am

Council Watcher: I was at the Council meeting last night and the public works director received a round of applause which had nothing to do with the increase in utility rates. Along with the heads of the Fire Department and one other department head, all three received an award, that's why they were applauded.

You are correct in saying water rates will go up almost immediately probably because of the water shortage, but long run we have to pay out millions for the water delivery upgrades from Hetch Hetchy, and that will also reflect in our Utility Bills.

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Posted by Super D
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2008 at 9:10 am

Wouldn't it be nice if the PA city government could develop solutions to reduce costs instead of just throwing more money at the problems? What a concept.

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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2008 at 9:40 am

Another example of our Mayor and city council not being able to manage our money properly and they want $76 million for the libraries, plus millions more for the COPS for the police palace. Klein and his cronies have shown no fiscal responsibility or restraint.
Time to stop themin their tracks--vote no on the library bond

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Posted by What a council
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 21, 2008 at 10:29 am

From today's PA Daily (unfortunately you now need an account to access online content, so there is no point in posting a link to the story):

" Mayor Larry Klein agreed that forging the city’s long-term Zero Waste plan and finding a garbage contractor to implement it is “one of the most important things the council has done” in his tenure."

It is always refreshing to see what the mayor and council consider to be important--too bad they do not show the same zeal for our infrastructure needs, high crime and loss of tax base. At least they are done dealing with the pressing children's Theatre issue

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Posted by Wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 21, 2008 at 10:54 am

That really is something. Worth than useless - these meaningless crusades distract from the real work of running a small city. What does it take to get decent public servants in this place?

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Posted by Activist
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Speculating what we will get for our money on this forum is pointless, since the city and the business partners aren't here to explain. When will we get a forum where we can get real answers?

As an aside, I'm just hoping that the new company will be more law-abiding than Pasco has been when it comes to keeping the sidewalks clear - so our kids don't have to continue walking to school in the middle of the road. The current situation is horrendous, and is partly due to the fact that we in the "unincorporated" midtown area don't have police presence like the downtown does.

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Posted by Jean
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

We are seniors on fixed income which isn't generating much "fixed'. We cannot afford these massive utility rate increases, the bond issues,, and all the other taxes being thrown at us. Looking for another place to live - and a safer one where we can walk without fear,
and find affordable stores within reasonable distance like JC Penny and Kohl's, and run by a common sense administration which knows how to handle the money This one doesn't. Palo Alto makes us feel guilty for being old and taking up valuable space.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

I have noticed in the past couple of weeks that PASCO has started leaving the trashcans on the street rather than the sidewalk on Loma Verde. This blocks the bike lanes and prevents cars from parking. I am sure that this has only been happening recently, but it is something I have noticed many times in San Jose neighborhoods. It is a problem there as the residents leave all their cans in the street the previous evening and it is very difficult to park on the steet when attempting to visit someone when this is happening. Now I see it happening here, I wonder if this is something that is going to be a bigger problem once we lose PASCO and get the San Jose company doing the job instead.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 21, 2008 at 5:59 pm

To "Activist"

One of this council's priorities is "civic engagement" - whatever that means. And I think the council voted last night - about $6,000+ for some sort of on-line 'opinion' column. THis is getting 'nutier' and 'nutier'. THIS council and the ones before it rarely listened to anyone except themselves. And in regard to this new waste management company and rates, remember that few if any staff live in Palo Alto - and they will not have to pay the rate.
With the salary he's getting the new city manager doesn't have to worry. Does the city pay his utility bill? Anyone know?

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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Enough with the rate increases! Wasn't the Enron-related rate increase enough?

Or is this new company going to start doing its job and picking up the recycling and yard waste cans from our yards?

If not, I want a 14.2% discount for doing THEIR work.

When will the Palo Alto City Council realize that we're in a recession and start having some fiscal discipline?

Like this comment
Posted by Minican for 4
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

If you want to lower your costs, consider using a 20 gallon minican.
Current rates are $70 less/year than standard 32 gallons. Our family of 4 doesn't even fill the minican each week since we recycle, compost and use the yard waste cans. We buy in bulk when possible as packaging is the majority of our waste.

Web Link

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2008 at 1:15 pm

S. Krofft writes: “Where is the watchdog group Palo Altans for Government Effectiveness?”

In 2005 about 6 residents got together and formed a little group we called ElPaloAlto. Our main concern was fiscal mismanagement. We built a website, created a flier, and tried to get friends to join. Not one single person responded!!

I think there are two problems with “civic engagement.”

1. It’s my impression that most Palo Altans are too busy to get involved in the big issues facing the city. It’s only if something happens in someone’s back-yard—e.g., a monster house, a zone change, a traffic problem—that they take action.

2. In spite of all the hype from council members, they really don’t want to be bothered listening to residents, especially those of us who are critical. In order to get any attention, you have to go to city council meetings and sit through endless hours to talk for three minutes. Even then, communication is one way. This new $6,000 system to get resident input is nonsense. We already have this Town Hall forum, but most council members are afraid of the “vitriol,” as one councilman described it.

If anyone is interested, here’s what our little group was trying to accomplish. Our flyer said:

ElPaloAlto: The Voice of Citizen Advocates for Budget Reform

ElPaloAlto is a group of Palo Alto residents concerned about the city’s financial crisis, inadequate fiscal accountability, and a budget process lacking public input, direction from elected officials and transparency.

For many years the City of Palo Alto has been spending beyond its means. The staff-to-resident ratio exceeds most Bay Area cities by 50% and has ballooned well beyond the rate of population growth. The cost of services has greatly exceeded inflation. Spending is often double that of nearby cities offering services of similar or higher quality.

ElPaloAlto’s mission is to advocate for fiscally responsible city government, accountable to Palo Alto residents.

ElPaloAlto will accomplish its mission by proposing significant and comprehensive fiscal reforms that will benefit the city and its residents as a whole. In particular, we will promote:
1. Clear priorities and measurable objectives that reflect the needs of the majority
2. A budget timeline that allows for citizen input and review plus full Council participation
3. A top-to-bottom review of the entire budget, particularly on staffing
4. Transparency in reporting
5. Accountability in measuring and rewarding results

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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm

To Minican, thanks for the news, I didn't know. I was actually thinking to get the smaller bins because we basically have 1 13-ga bag of garbage and 1 of recycling per week, and found our current bins too bulky. How do I make sure I get charged less?

To Pat, thanks also for the information. Is that group still active. I think the main problem for people to participate is what you mentioned about wasting hours at the meetings for just a couple of minutes, specially when the council members are not even listening. Sometimes I wish I could get more involved!

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Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2008 at 8:48 am

Pat, People need to know the true the whole truth. To make real changes.
Look at who runs this City, Conflict of interest after conflict of interest. Scandal after scandal and who pays the price. The Employes and citizens and the incompotent leaders just go about business, who is going to stop them? You. Your group?

Like this comment
Posted by Off with the utility tax
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I was wondering when the 5% tax is going to be reduced because the all the other rates keep going up and bringing in more tax. They must be having a hard time figuring out how to spend it. Like that is ever a problem

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Posted by Waiting for a train
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Jean writes:

"Palo Alto makes us feel guilty for being old and taking up valuable space."

In a lot of ways, I think you should feel that way. Palo Alto is a job center with fewer and fewer workers each year. Retirees are taking up a lot of valuable space. Do 'empty nesters' need a 4 bedroom house with a large yard? You should have cashed out when the market was good.

Right now Palo Alto has a total population of around 60,000 and over 80,000 jobs. Of the 60,000 residents, I would guess that only 15,000 to 20,000 are actually employed. The rest are retired, kids or stay-at-homes. That means 60 to 65 thousand people have to commute into Palo Alto each day (it is probably even higher).

Meanwhile, everyone just complains about the traffic. How can there NOT be traffic with that kind of housing-to-jobs imbalance?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 28, 2008 at 11:15 pm

To "Waiting for a train" I take offense to what you have written to Jean and other long time residents

The seniors and long time residents have worked hard to help build this community. They paid taxes on their homes for years that were far above the national average.

They deserve to stay in their homes without feeling guilty until they pass on.

They helped build this community.

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

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