Palisadians Protest New Citywide Trash Program
By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
The rollout of LA’s new citywide trash collection program, recycLA, has come with its fair share of growing pains, and Palisadians are adding their voices to a growing chorus around the city that say waste management is now more expensive and less consistent.
The program aims to provide recycling services to 100 percent of the city’s businesses and large, multi-family residential buildings, reducing the amount of trash headed to landfills by one million tons each year among other environmental benefits.
The system was approved by City Council in 2014, and last year they unanimously approved exclusive contracts for seven different companies to provide the service to subdivisions of the city.
Palisadians say those contracts have saddled them with higher bills—and no alternatives.
“This is a monopoly,” Janice Nordlinger told the Palisadian-Post. “They can charge whatever they want.”
Nordlinger is the president of Vista Palisades Homeowners Association, which collects and provides for waste management fees at an Antioch Street condo building.
She said that since the recycLA rollout, her building’s monthly bill has ballooned from $274 from a private provider to about $490 with the city-provided option.
And pickups have been inconsistent, with Athens Services, the provider for Pacific Palisades and much of the Westside, missing most of their scheduled service dates so far this month.
Athens representatives have met with Nordlinger and the condos’ building manager to try to smooth out the inconsistent pickups, but the Antioch building isn’t their only pain point.
Palisadian condo residents Michael and Jacqueline Kafka called the program’s rollout an “unacceptable mess,” noting missed pickups that left their dumpsters overflowing and broken bags all over their trash room.
“This poses a health risk as well as rodent infestation,” Jacqueline told the Post. “To add insult to injury, the price went up.”
Palisadian Peter Hall, who manages multiple apartment buildings across the city, said he’s experienced issues across recycLA’s subdivisions. In one case, a building’s monthly bill more than tripled.
Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office said they’ve heard the concerns from Westside constituents. “We are planning on introducing legislation soon to begin addressing some of the things we are hearing,” Deputy Chief of Staff David Graham-Caso told the Post.
In a letter to the city’s Bureau of Sanitation director, the councilmember called recycLA’s implementation “tremendously flawed,” and called for new improvements.
But critics point to his role in approving the exclusive contracts in the first place.
Public Works officials described the contract selections as “a very competitive process that lasted for months,” in which 15 proposals were awarded a score based on cost, customer service, experience and other key factors.
City Council approved their recommended providers with an eye on lofty environmental goals; now they’re trying to soothe the constituents who say they’re stuck footing the bill.
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