Apr 2 2017

New Garbage Contract Proposes Less Service for Residents, Increase in City Staff Work and More Service for the City: Council to Consider Final Contract Specs April 3.

Reduced services compared with current waste contract include:

  • End to unlimited recycling in bins.  
  • City employees determine who gets charged for disabled backyard service,  generating privacy rights issues.
  • City employees determine distance and elevation for backyard pickup when challenged by residents.
  • City to receive additional funds from the waste collector while assuming new staff work.

After learning about the proposed contract, some residents expressed concerns are:

  • More work added for City employees with operational costs not evaluated on the long term- retirements, medical, and other employment financial obligations.
  • An invasion of residents’ privacy as City employees determine who has a disability or who is unable to place and retrieve their bins at the curb.
  • The technical task assigned to City staff of evaluating distances and elevations between the bin location in backyard and curb, creating a new cost for the City.
  • Residents decry the idea of massive amounts of bulk waste potentially being placed on the street at a specific time/date, offering an invitation to those from all over the area to come to Piedmont as scavengers.
  • Reduced services will discourage routine cleanup and proper disposal of refuse.
  • Contract changes appear to benefit the City staff rather than the residents.
  • Residents were happy with the current contract work provided by Republic Services.

At the City Council meeting on Monday, April 3rd, the Council will be asked to consider approval of the waste collection/garbage services RFP, which, if approved, will be released on Monday, April 10th. The terms of the waste collection services RFP have been changed from the original the community was asked to comment on.  (See the original draft RFP here and the new staff prepared report and revised RFP here.)

Does the RFP  put too great a burden on City staff by involving them in individual resident’s waste collection and bin location?

The final draft RFP to be considered by the Council on April 3 requires the City staff to get heavily involved in the provision of individually tailored collection services to each resident of Piedmont.  The staff would determine the disability status of any disabled resident.  In order to peg the backyard pickup fee to specific conditions, the staff would have to measure the distance from the curb to residents’ waste barrels in their backyards. Further, staff would calculate the change in elevation involved since the fee for backyard pickup would no longer be flat but would reflect individual distance/height to the curb for those choosing backyard pickup.

The current practice under the existing service contract is to charge an additional flat fee for backyard pickup instead of curbside pickup of waste.  A flat additional fee for backyard pickup does not reflect the variety in yard sizes so some pointed out the discrepancy in waste removal effort and time involved from residence to residence. Others note that a flat fee is simpler and cheaper for everyone since tailoring the backyard surcharge to each residence involves extensive and expensive administration.

The contract as drafted will increase the requirements for hiring and paying City staff to be involved in many aspects of the contract including considering applications for disabilities, measuring distances from curbs and elevations, and other on-going aspects of the contract.  No information on the additional cost to the City and taxpayers is noted in the report.

The City will receive payments in five different categories from the waste collection services provider:

  • Reimbursement for the Procurement Process 
  • Transition Payment
  • Franchise Fee
  • Annual Service Rate Adjustment payment
  • Performance Review Payment

Some of the service modifications from current services:

  • City employees, rather than the contractor, will determine a Piedmont resident’s disabled eligibility for backyard pickup at curbside rate.
  • In the case of disputes between the service provider and Piedmont customer about the distance/elevation charge for backyard pickup, the City will determine the distance/elevation to backyard trash location.
  • Fewer bins provided unless customers pay an additional monthly fee.
  • Green waste beyond the capacity of the green bin will be collected in compostable bags (containing no greater than 50 pound weight) rather than additional bin according to the RFP:

    “Provisioning  of green waste overage bags (compostable bags) by contractor to be distributed by mail or at Piedmont City Hall and to be provided and collected from residents at no additional cost to residents.”

There are other changes, too numerous and complex to describe here, however, for the industrious reader the staff report is here.

The Council meeting is open to the public.  The agenda is here. 

Those wishing to state their views to the Council without attending the Monday, April 3 meeting, can send an email to the City Council via City Clerk John Tulloch by clicking >  jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us .

The meeting at City Hall begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and via the City website under videos.

4 Responses to “New Garbage Contract Proposes Less Service for Residents, Increase in City Staff Work and More Service for the City: Council to Consider Final Contract Specs April 3.”

  1. Good news- the proposed contract has significant reductions in service levels in that unlimited recycling/composting and individual curbside pick-ups are eliminated from the contract which should lower rates. These services were likely the reason rates were increased so much in the last contract so their elimination now should lead to lower rates. Likewise, the scalable backyard service formula should result in a more accurate (and higher) rate for this service, again leading to a rate reduction for curbside service, the majority of Piedmont’s service.

    Bad news – for recycling, this contract is a serious step backwards. Specifically, the contract calls for a 60% diversion rate, a rate the city had already achieved before the advent of the cart system 10 years ago. And it ignores the 75% diversion rate that council set by resolution – the stretch goal for this contract is 70% by 2028. Many other east bay cities are achieving 75 % and our city has routinely been above 70%. Staff assumes that with the reduction in unlimited recycling, green waste will go to the landfill instead and result in an underestimate of our true diversion rate – this happened in the past. But it won’t now – Alameda County has banned the dumping of green waste in land fills and green waste is now properly sorted and credited. The contract should at least adjust the diversion targets to 65, 70, and 75% at a minimum to maintain the current level of recycling in town. To do the right thing, the contract should set the target at 75% as directed by Resolution 38-08.

    General Plan Goals and Policies: the staff report lists the numerous goals and policies this contract addresses (wish that had been done with chapter 17 revisions) but many are really not related to this service contract. To make true headway with our Climate Action Plan, this contract should require the use of biodiesel vehicles – this is likely the largest source of truck traffic GHG emission generated by the city and the city could achieve major reduction by mandating this in the contract.

  2. Please decide which contract items are best suited to reduce climate change.

    And we certainly want to recycle as much green waste as possible!

  3. Thanks Garrett for your knowledgeable response. I have not followed the Piedmont waste issue closely, but I did have a caution that may be useful. The City of Oakland spent a great deal on staff, consultants and public time to craft a detailed and specific RFP that outlined a great number of demands and requirements. Unfortunately, their efforts were rewarded with only one responsive bid from their current provider, Waste Management. This caused no end of trouble for the city ending up with recirculation of the EGO, eventual litigation and very increased rates. The 2016 Grand Jury report covers this problem pretty well. Piedmont should not repeat Oakland’s path on this. Also, collusion between garbage companies is not unknown.

  4. I think that there should be a provision that someone at age 75 (or pick a comparable age) or older should automatically be entitled to backyard collection at curbside rates. Will some noses get out of joint if they are thought to be “too old” to haul the cans to and from the curb and they don’t feel that way? If so, let THEM opt out of the reduced rates.

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