LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles residents and city officials are holding their noses after the massive waste-hauling and recycling program RecycLA has drawn 28,000 complaints.
The city approved contracts for seven companies to pick up and recycle trash.
After six months, the program's shortfalls have even shocked city officials.
"The implementation of this program has been nothing short of a hot mess," Councilman Mike Bonin said.
The complaints range from missed pickups to an array of new fees hitting apartment owners and small businesses the hardest.
For instance, the program now bills for picking up large trash containers from behind buildings and moving them to the awaiting truck on the street. Monthly bills have doubled, tripled or even sextupled for some apartment owners.
"They have gone from an average of $175 to $200 per month to anywhere between $1,200 to $1,600 per month," apartment owner Alan Bernstein said.
Seven companies were contracted to provide exclusive service throughout the city. Independent operators are not allowed. Some critics say the monopoly hurts a competitive process which could potentially deliver better service for a lower cost.
RecycLA was developed to reduce waste sent to landfills, get polluting trucks off the street and reduce congestion caused by multiple companies operating in the same neighborhoods.
Environmentalists sounded off at today's hearing of the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice committee, fearing that cancelling contracts would be a step backward.
There are three measures proposed by city council members, including one that would terminate RecycLA providers if the haulers fail to meet their obligations.
"This RecycLA contract caught all of us flat-footed and we need to fix it and fix it soon or explore alternatives," Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said.
Sanitation officials say they encountered multiple problems including their own miscalculation in the amount of staff and vehicles needed for collection. Some truck operators were unfamiliar with their routes resulting in loaded dumpsters left behind.
The city is now reviewing its options.