Sep 8 2017

Remembering When Piedmont Garbage Pickup Service was Much Cheaper

Some residents have been surprised and disappointed to read the new garbage pickup rates proposed by Republic Services:  Curbside rates will go from $55.11 per month to $88.65 per month and “backyard” service from the current $61.08 to $131.43 per month.

Out of curiosity a Piedmont resident uncovered old waste collection bills from earlier decades. For curbside service in 1990, single family homes were billed $32.10 per three months, not per month!

All Piedmont property owners are required by law to pay for waste collection by the service provider chosen by the City. This also applies to residents who no longer generate any waste (whether green or solid) or recycling, due to their adoption of limited consumption, growing family food, composting their limited food scraps in an effort to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

5 Responses to “Remembering When Piedmont Garbage Pickup Service was Much Cheaper”

  1. I do not know enough to be any more than suspicious. But, in reading the 2016 Alameda County Grand Jury report on Oakland’s garbage service, I was struck by the fact that Oakland only had one responsive bidder from a widely circulated RFP, Waste Management. Then I read that Piedmont also had only one bidder, Republic Services. There are only a few full service garbage companies serving the Bay Area. This is the kind of environment that invites collusion between providers. When the cost of a good or service rises many times faster than the cost of living, there may be reason to suspect that competitive market forces are not in play as they should be.

  2. Piedmont’s rate is increasing 2.87 times faster annually than the CPI-U for the region. If the monthly Piedmont curbside rate in 1990 is $10.70 monthly (based on $32.10 for three months), and the same service will be $88.65 starting July 2018, the annual increase is 7.84%. The 1990 average SF-Oakland-San Jose CPI-U is 132.1, and the 2016 average is 266.3 (source: ABAG), then the annual CPI-U increase is 2.73% per year.

    Beyond the reasonable skepticism of bidding practices Mike Henn raises, Piedmont’s rate in comparison to both surrounding Oakland and topographically similar Mill Valley is troubling. Oakland’s monthly rate to June 30, 2018 for 32 gallon service is $44.83 for curbside. (Oakland backyard is $88.21) The Hill’s section of Mill Valley curbside rate for July 2016 is $47.73 for 32 gallon curbside service. To be fair, Piedmont’s service has some extras included that Oakland residents pay for. Piedmont’s rate in July 2018 is expected to be $88.65 which is 98% more than Oakland and 86% more than Mill Valley.

    Seniors age 70 receive backyard service at curbside rates in nine Marin County cities and this senior backyard courtesy is common in many California cities. The City of Piedmont states backyard service at curbside rates for seniors is contrary to State Law. What is common elsewhere is illegal in Piedmont, which is odd as State Law applies equally to all cities.

  3. Thanks Rick, you have done some good research. I think I read in one of the local papers that Piedmont only got one bid. I could be wrong,but if not, there’s no blaming the city for accepting their only bid. Granted, an ultra-fussy and demanding RFP can be a deterrent to smaller companies from even preparing a bid. We are prone to that sort of perfection seeking, which can make things more expensive. City staff knows the details, I am sure.

  4. Mike, Thank you. Initially the City consultant (Garth Schultz) expected a robust bid environment. Only Republic Services put a bid in. The City’s 8/8/17 FAQ stated that Waste Management did not bid because “backyard service would place an extraordinary amount of injury risk” to employees. Not included is that Waste Management stated they would be “happy to re-assess” should Piedmont reconsider and move to an “automated collection model.” This later system utilizes carts that mate to an auto lift on the trucks, as is in use in Oakland. Oakland residents can still choose curbside or backyard service.

    The 8/8/17 FAQ partially attributes high rates to “The fact that Piedmont is bordered on all sides by the City of Oakland (which) impacts logistics for solid waste service providers.” I am reminded of Michael Rancer’s comment in an earlier PCA article where he speculated that Waste Management, who’s service borders Piedmont on all sides, would logically be a cost effective provider by merely continuing their routes into Piedmont.

  5. Rick, since you are the diligent researcher, there may be a City of Piedmont hidden tax, sometimes called a franchise fee, involved with Piedmont’s total waste management charge. Other jurisdictions usually slip that in maybe calling it a contract management fee, or something similar.

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