LOS ANGELES - Acting to fix significant problems with a new waste hauling system in Los Angeles, City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin today introduced legislation aimed at improving the customer experience and better protecting consumers from excessive fees charged by waste haulers.
In July 2017, the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (“LASAN”) launched an ambitious new program, recycLA, designed to dramatically increase recycling, move Los Angeles toward its zero waste goals, ensure fair pricing, improve service, and enhance working conditions. Since the initial rollout of recycLA , however, City Council offices have been inundated with calls and correspondence from small businesses, landlords, and homeowner associations. Concerned constituents have expressed a thread of complaints and confusion regarding sudden and sharply increased costs, confusing new fees and surcharges and inaccurate bills. Their concerns also include frequent and repeated lack of service, lack of notice and widespread poor customer service from the waste haulers.
"After years of committee hearings, revisions to the draft ordinance, and assurances related to outreach and case management during the transition, the waste hauling system I ultimately supported has fallen far short of my expectations,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “We need to be more responsive to small businesses and apartment building owners, as well as exercise much stronger oversight and accountability from the approved waste haulers, while meeting state-mandated environmental requirements and achieving our zero waste goals."
“Residents and small business owners in Los Angeles deserve better than this,” said Councilmember Bonin. “The goals of the recycLA program – reaching zero waste in Los Angeles and protecting the workers we rely on for this essential service – are imperative, but the poor rollout and implementation of this program is simply unacceptable. The City needs to take immediate steps to fix it or we’ll never achieve the worthy goals of the program.”
The legislation instructs the Bureau of Sanitation to immediately provide a report to the City Council with recommendations for possible reductions to extra service charges being levied on small businesses and apartment owners, and to allow apartment owners and small business owners to share collection bins to help reduce the cost of service. The legislation additionally demands a plan for further outreach to customers to inform them about the new waste hauling system and of the options available to reduce costs by increasing recycling, and asks for the City Attorney and Board of Public Works to prepare options that allow the city to assess penalties on waste haulers that fail to provide a reasonable level of service to customers [SEE LINK].
The legislation was crafted after hearing from hundreds of residents, small business owners, and property owners. Councilmember Bonin said that some of the problems with missed pickups have been so extreme that despite frequent calls to trash haulers and the Bureau of Sanitation, some property owners in his district have received warnings and citations from the Los Angeles County Department of Health.
The Bonin/O’Farrell legislation will be referred to Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice committee and the councilmembers are asking for their motion to receive a hearing quickly so the city can begin improving the recycLA program as soon as possible.