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Franchise trash-haul system proposal advances with Public Works approval

February 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
More than a hundred people came to Los Angeles City Hall Monday to "talk trash," specifically about a new proposal that could change who collects it, and what the cost might be.

Currently private waste-haulers collect all waste and some recyclables from businesses and large multifamily residences like apartment buildings.

At issue is whether the city should move to an exclusive franchise system in which a single waste-hauler is allowed to operate under a contract in a given area. Family businesses say if that happens, they won't survive.

"It's devastating to us because we will not be able to compete with the larger companies," said Matthew Kotanjian, general manager of AAA Rubbish Inc.

"Every business is going to either have to pass that on to consumers, or they're going to have to cut costs, and the way they cut costs is by jobs," said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

Angelenos for a Clean Environment say hauler rates would increase by 33 percent. But city officials say it's impossible to tell how much money the city would generate from this new program, or how much would be passed on to the customer.

"There's a lot being suggested in terms of rates, that they're going to go up astronomically, that residents are going to be disproportionately impacted, and I don't necessarily know that that's true," said Andrea Alarcon, president of the L.A. Board of Public Works. "Rates in the current system right now vary drastically."

But there were pleas from residential property owners Monday, who said they will be impacted if they lose their right to choose their haulers, and they'll have to pass some of that onto their tenants.

"When I have an option to buy new linoleum, new carpet, new window trim, possibly new appliances, I'm going to opt out of that, not to do it, because I can't afford it," said Michael Millman, an apartment building owner.

Supporters of a franchise system say the city would actually ensure flat rates for everybody.

"You can't raise rates in an exclusive franchise system without the approval of the city," said Greg Good, director of the Don't Waste L.A. project. "It's that simple."

The L.A. Board of Public Works approved the proposal Monday afternoon. The proposal now goes to the Los Angeles City Council with some amendments.