Get ready for a garbage rate hike


Recology, the San Francisco garbage monopoly, usually comes to the city to ask for a rate increase once every five years or so. It's been almost seven since the last one -- and it's not as if the company's costs have come down. Anyone who's running big diesel trucks and paying for fuel has been hammered in the past year or two.

So why did the folks at Recology wait until this fall -- Sept. 11 -- to let the city know they want to change the way they charge for trash -- and most likely rise rates at the same time?

Well, for one thing, there was a ballot measure back in June that would have broken up the lucrative monopoly and opened the waste-removal franchise to competitive bidding. That's Recology's worst nightmare. Since 1932, the company (through its predecessors) has had the exclusive right to pick up residential and commercial refuse in San Francisco; unlike virtually every other outfit that does this level of business with the city, the contract never comes up for renewal and nobody else ever gets to bid. There's virtually no chance that anyone but Recology would ever win a bid for the deal anyway -- we're talking about a unionized, worker-owned local company, and all of the other big garbage outfits are nasty out-of-state operations with bad management and environmental records. But if there were other bidders, Recology might have to sweenten the city's deal -- keep the rates lower or give some more money to City Hall.

Ant any rate, the ballot measure went down under a flood of Recology money, and to nobody's surprise the rate hike is now on the table.

Your rates won't actually go up for a while -- the process is long and complicated and both Recology and the Department of Public Works agree that the earliest any new pricing would go into effect would be next summer. We won't actually see a firm proposal until December.

But already, the company's talking about ending the current practice of charging for the black (garbage-to-the-landfill) cans and picking up recycling and compost free. The city and the company are both trying to reduce the amount of landfill material that gets discarded -- and ultimately, everyone would like to eliminate the black cans altogether. But that, Recology spokesperson Eric Potashner told me, doesn't work with the current business model: "We can't rocus our financial operations on a black can if we're trying to get rid of it."

Which leads to a dilemma: If you want people to recycle and compost more, how do you get away with charging them more to do it? "That's the challenge," Potashner said.

Either way, the rates are going to go up. "There hasn't been a cost-of-living increase since 2010," Douglas Legg, finance director at DPW, told us. The increase might be fairly steep, too -- after all, it's been seven years since the last one.

All of which comes back to the competitive bidding question. If this weren't a monopoly, and Recology had to compete for the contract every once in a while, "these rate hikes might be more moderate," retired Judge Quentin Kopp, a longtime critic of the company, told us.


Oakland $24 million SF $0 thats for starters
Look what the SFBG said about Recology a short time ago
2. “The garbage collection/recycling monopoly now grosses about $220 million per year from the city’s residents and businesses, without any regulation of commercial rates.

3. “How did we end up paying so much? In 2001 the monopoly requested a 52% rate increase, Department of Public Works staff recommended 20% and the then DPW director (now Mayor) Ed Lee granted a 44 %rate increase. That’s why the Examiner said: ‘no-bid contracts generally make for dirty public policy, and this includes…The City’s garbage collection monopoly…’

4. “Don’t believe the monopoly’s 78% recycling rate claim backed only by its puppet city department. A former Recology recycling manager has testified under oath that fraudulent reporting, excessive state reimbursements and even kickbacks to and from Recology employees are behind this bogus claim. Another ‘whistleblower’ has revealed that even sand removal from the Great Highway was included in this 78%.

5. “With a far smaller population, Oakland receives $24 million each year as a franchise fee, which supports city services and prevents other tax and fee increases. San Francisco receives zilch from the monopoly holder in franchise fees for our General Fund.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

Landlord usually pays garbage, so why do you give a fuck?

Posted by Fly on the wall. on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 4:39 am

Because they'll pass those charges on to tenants in the former of higher rent.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:50 am

It's odd that in the US a property owner pays it. That's mostly for the historical reason that a property owner is easier to chase down for payment than a tenant. But ideally, people should pay their own trash bill.

Same for property taxes really. It makes more sense to do what they do in the UK and charge local taxes to the occupier, not the owner.

But yes, such costs all get passed on ultimately, just like any tax on gross rents would be passed along. there's no freee lunch.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:07 am

Back east, in NYC and Philadelphia, trash is paid for by taxes.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:19 am

"It makes more sense to do what they do in the UK and charge local taxes to the occupier, not the owner."

Why? The owner is the one making the profit from being a landlord.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 10:18 am

those who consume services and those who pay for them. That helps people to vote more intelligently. Voting for a tax that won't cost you anything is a no-brainer.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

Interesting choice of words.

And you're bitching about Recology charging more for recycling and yet support the "green alternative" to PG&E even though that also costs more.

Some hypocrisy there.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:37 am

Public democratic control of water is not a monopoly while a sweetheart contract for a private firm in perpetuity is a monopoly.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:21 am

and, in some ways is worse. My "democratic control" over SFWater is in practice a myth. I'd have more power as a shareholder of Recology or PG&E than I do with one lousy vote.

You're really just trotting out the usual SFBG line: "public = good; private = bad".

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:53 am

Yes. And anyone who doesn't own a bunch of shares? Losers, right?

And their precious clinging to that antiquated notion of "one man, one vote?" -- a typical loser's fantasy that should have been buried along with George Washington.

Public=bad; private=good.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:14 am

Idiot. You can organize to change election outcomes and put different people in charge of the PUC, but you continue to support corrupt kleptocrats who have no time for contemptuous little people like yourselves other than for them to sit by and get richer while you shovel more money their way.

Can you buy shares in Norcal or Sunset or Recology?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:21 am

well hasn't it? Or a byzantine DBI permit process. Or just about anything else run by the city. It's a myth - being public just means it's unionized, resistant to any change and way more expensive.

Oh, and you hate the central subway, right? But it's getting built anyway. What happened to your precious "democratic control"?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

Muni and the PUC are under the iron fist of the Mayor, the "moderate" ones that you keep insisting we vote for because the progressives are so koo-koo, right?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

And Lee didn't just win 60-40 over a candidate who thinks like you?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

So people want corruption in the public sector, as you've recommended they do and celebrate. Quit yer bitching.

Most San Franciscans would prefer a public option for utilities as 8 Supervisors prevailed over the Mayor to implement Community Choice Aggregation. Government should probably run waste management as well and it would do it better for cheaper.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

Is that why EVERY public power I imitative has lost at the polls, because people want it so bad?

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

Yet now the PUC is doing Community Choice Aggregation after the Board of Supervisors passed it with a veto proof 8 votes. Elsbernd said that it was not that big a deal and that he probably was going to not opt out at his house.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

supported public power. And apparently you have no answer. I do. They want power to work, unlike Muni.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

There were the matters of electoral and political corruption, remember Tammy Haygood and the election fraud of 2002, not to mention the illegal campaign that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fine from the FPPC and SF Ethics Commission.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

Any election where you lose there is corruption,but one in which things go your way, the corrupt people over slept that day?

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

On the odd occasion where they win, and don't immediately screw it up by beating their wife, it's, er, a "voter mandate".

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

"Tammy Haygood," "Memorial Auditorium" and "Ballots in the Bay" are San Francisco political touchstones of 2002.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

Garbage Trash politics strikes again RECOLOGY >Corruption>Billion dollar
San Francisco's Trash Scandal & Monopoly Continues

Standing atop San Francisco's Giant Trash Monopoly are (L-R) Rose Pak, Mayor Ed Lee, Frm. Mayor Willie Brown, Melanie Nutter, and Mike Sangiacomo

The San Francisco Budget and Finance Committee voted to approve Recology's waste hauling contract despite the myriad of problems and issues presented. Recology's lobbying efforts, led by former Mayor Willie Brown, once again paid off. Unfortunately, we cannot claim to be surprised by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's support of Recology's monopoly. In fact, his support of the billion dollar waste corporation symbolizes his true fall from environmental stewardship and liberal politics. His run for Sheriff is fitting for the politician he has become. Supervisor Jane Kim's vote is disappointing as well. She's proving herself to be more business friendly than originally thought (something she'll have to account for in her re-election campaign). Ultimately, this vote should trouble liberals throughout The City. We're facing a troubling pro-business era with Ed Lee (with the backing of Rose Pak and Willie Brown) leading the charge.

Recology's coffers and the political puppet Mayor Lee helped the trash company pull the wool over San Francisco voters eyes once again. Unfortunately, Recology and Lee spent heavy and utilized all of their political capital to win. The taxpayer (and Recology) funded SF Department of the Environment's Director Melanie Nutter also fought hard for the private company to maintain their monopoly over San Francisco. Nutter, you'll be reminded, ran Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's office before taking charge of the Dept. of the Environment or, as we at Trash Recollgy will forever decree - the SF Department of Recology [Environment]. While this is a major setback for voters fighting to end the monopoly, the fight continues forward...

Rose Pak, Willie Brown and Ed Lee's Recology foot-soldiers
By Ron Russell, Bay Area Observer - July 30, 201
1The Chronicle yesterday unveiled how Chinatown political boss Rose Pak leaned on executives at garbage-collector Recology to enlist foot solders for the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign she helps direct on behalf of interim Mayor Ed Lee. Today, The Bay Citizen’s Gerry Shih and Sidney Lupkin connect some Recology dots to the other maestro of the Lee campaign orchestra—Chronicle columnist Willie Brown...

San Francisco supes award sweet landfill contract to Recology
By Joshua Sabatini, SF Examiner - July 26, 2011
Recology, which has long held a monopoly over San Francisco’s trash pick up, has won a 10-year contract to dispose of the refuse into a landfill it owns 130-miles away in Yuba County...

SF Mayor Ed Lee's rivals seek probe of his backers
By John Cote, SF Gate - July 29, 2011
The honeymoon is over for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Five rival candidates vying to replace him jointly called Thursday for an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by Progress for All, a committee pushing for Lee to enter a mayor's race where he would likely become the front-runner...

Run, Ed, Run: Rose Pak Accused of Illegal Campaigning
By Erin Sherbert, SF Weekly - July 29, 2011
Mayor Ed Lee has not yet declared his candidacy for mayor, and already he's being connected to crooked campaigning...

Will Kopp's competitive bidding initiative derail Recology's train to Yuba?
By Sarah Phelan, SF Bay Guardian - July 25, 2011
Sponsors of an initiative to require competitive bidding on all aspects of the city's multi-million-dollar garbage services say they plan to deliver their initiative petitions to the Department of Elections this afternoon.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

NO to the increase Ed Lee is a pay for play schemer who sold out the people of SF for campaign contributions and influence
Pay-to-play politics began surrounding the Lee campaign even before he officially filed, fueling rumors even then that a federal investigation may have begun.

Recology, which benefits from an exclusive city contracts for hauling waste and garbage but that faces a potential ballot measure to open the city’s contract to more bidders, admitted that it had used its offices to gather signatures to encourage Ed Lee to file as a candidate for mayor.

The firm identified Lee’s ally and confidant Rose Pak as having approached a “senior official” to collect signatures in the company’s lunch room and otherwise support the Draft Ed Lee effort.

Lee was forced to tell reporters that he knew nothing about the effort and knew nothing about any federal investigation.

Lee then went a step further to falsely claim that the Recology contract he signed was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, a rookie claim easily discredited. The press had to correct Lee’s story to note that both Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos had voted against the Recology contract.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Forgot attribution the above is from Citireport

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

Nonsense. Recology will not raise rates. Since they are saving so much by he Board of Supes outlawing free shopping bags, they'll surely lower rates. I know the grocery stores have lowered prices so much I no longer have to go to the food bank.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

Recology and the Willie Brown syndicate have a LONG history to Gavin Newsom to Ed Lee and is why the first place Rose Pak went to to start the fraud riddled run ed run campaign is RECOLOGY they are allow the corrupt city government to pilfer this city its resources and the racketeering just continues unabated. At least we can appear at the BOS and make some statement to the crooks on the BOS ready to rubber stamp this outrage

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

Forget about the increase the City of SF is LOSING 40 to 50 Million in franchise fees it isnt getting because $$$ has moved from Recology to the Syndicate to BUY that swindle while selling out SF. Fog City J. Luke Thomas
"A former employee turned whistleblower leveled serious charges of fraud, embezzlement and corruption Thursday against San Francisco-based Recology, accusing the unregulated garbage collection monopoly of bilking the State of California and taxpayers out of millions of dollars."
"In addition to Recology’s soft money political donations, Recology also routinely instructs its employees to work on election campaigns favorable to Recology interests, McVeigh said. Before he was terminated, McVeigh said he was instructed by Recology to work on the campaigns to re-elect former Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Supervisor Bevan Dufty.
“That definitely was part of the job description,” McVeigh said.
In another example of Recology’s meddling in the political election process, in last year’s race for mayor, Mayor Ed Lee booster Rose Pak sought Recology’s help to collect signatures and distribute campaign signs for the controversial “Run, Ed, Run” campaign.
Lee’s history with Recology has been favorable to the monopoly, Kopp said. As Director of Public Works under the administration of former Mayor Willie Brown, Lee overruled a staff-recommended rate increase of 22 percent in 1999 and instead awarded the company a 44 percent increase. The rate was appealed and reduced to 40 percent."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

where does all the money from the blue bins go?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 02, 2013 @ 7:41 pm