Jan 31 2015

OPINION: Resident Questions Why Piedmont Garbage Rates Much Higher than Nearby Cities

The following resident letter questions why Piedmont’s garbage rates are 62% higher than some surrounding cities.

Jan. 29, 2015

Piedmont City Council

Re: Feb. 2 2015 Billing & Performance Audit of Republic Service Inc.

Honorable Council,

My sister lives in Alameda and her 3 full size bin weekly service through Alameda County Industries is $108.21 for 3 months or $36.07 monthly. Alameda is not topographically comparable to Piedmont but significant parts of Oakland and Berkeley are similar with narrow, winding and hilly streets. Berkeley 32 gallon 3 can service weekly is $36.93 monthly. The Chronicle reports the 3 can weekly service in Oakland as $36.82 monthly. but a current Oakland bill shows the rate at $22.36 per month.  A friend in the narrow, steep streets of Montclair states their rate at $30.

In Piedmont my last 3 month bill for 3 full size cans is $176.47 or $58.82 monthly.

As part of the City audit of RSI, I ask that a survey be done of surrounding city rates. RSI should provide justification for charging a rate in Piedmont that is minimally 62% higher than surrounding cities.

Generally, I find RSI service reliable and the company responsive.


Rick Schiller, Piedmont resident

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

9 Responses to “OPINION: Resident Questions Why Piedmont Garbage Rates Much Higher than Nearby Cities”

  1. The likely reason for the difference in rates is the provision of backyard pick-up service in Piedmont. The other cities do not do that. My recollection is that in 2008 when we negotiated the new contract, 40% of Piedmont was using backyard service and the rates set by RSS amounted to a substantial subsidy of that service by curb-side accounts. The other bidders either did not offer the service or when they did, the rates were exorbitantly high.

    A useful exercise of this audit for the upcoming 2018 contract would be to evaluate the specifics of backyard service and set rates that better reflect the cost of that service.

  2. https://www.dropbox.com/s/c16pun7higa4fct/Garbage%20Bill%20edited.pdf?dl=0

    Link to the cited “current Oakland bill.”

  3. Long overdue inquiry, Rick. As with other public contracts, I suspect the contractor has simply taken advantage of Piedmont’s apparent nonchalance about the cost of services.

  4. Great question, Rick! Don’t residents with backyard pickup pay extra for the service, or are those of us who lug our cans to the street subsidizing the backyard pickups?

  5. As I recall, those requesting “backyard service” were assessed a small premium to compensate for the added effort expended by the collectors.

  6. There are two rates but no quantitative assessment was made by RSS as to the extra cost of backyard service.

  7. Don’t overlook Mike Rancer’s comment, the “nonchalance” has been pervasive in the past at City Hall. I am hopeful and believe the culture is changing and for the better.

    The Piedmont service, as I recall, charges $5/month more for backyard service and given the many large lots and demographics, this seems useful in Piedmont. The Piedmont service also includes unlimited green waste pickup and a limited number of bulk pickups annually as part of the service. Do other Cities include these value-added services and what is an appropriate cost of the Piedmont extras?

  8. Thanks for this inquiry, I look forward to learning more as the City approaches its contract renewal date. We also wheel our cans to the curb and would love to see our bill reduced for equivalent, typical HH service. I agree that the many Piedmonters who don’t have ‘average’ service needs should not be asked to subsidize the incremental needs of a smaller portion of Piedmonters who have more intensive needs like unlimited green waste and backyard fetching of cans. However, that consideration would need to be balanced by the goal of incentivizing environmentally-appropriate waste disposal. On that topic, I recently received a notice from StopWaste.org that a waste audit of our community revealed that we Piedmonters, as a whole, are not doing a good job of separating our compostable trash (e.g. food waste and food-soiled paper products like paper towels, napkins, cardboard take-out containers, etc.) from our landfill-destined trash. I hope many individuals and families in our community will attend the April 22 evening event at the Piedmont Community Center, to learn in real-time about waste and water-use reduction and improving home-energy efficiency. This event will be jointly hosted by Piedmont CONNECT and Piedmont’s League of Women Voters.

  9. Hope is referring to the “benchmark study” that StopWaste implemented last year. The study looks at waste headed to the landfill and determines the amout of recyclabe and compostable material in it. According to this year’s survey, Piedmont’s trash is 5% recyclable, 39% compostable and 56% garbage. 5% is above average for the county but 39% is below average. The sources of that “contamination” needs to be determined and better source-separation at home will help.

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