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Committee: LA trash pickup should be exclusive franchise

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Fewer private companies would be allowed to pick up garbage from Los Angeles' commercial and multifamily properties under an exclusive franchise deal unanimously approved today by two Los Angeles City Council committees.

The vote from the Energy and Environment Committee and Ad Hoc Committee on Waste Reduction and Recycling is a win for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which has spent two years lobbying to move the city's waste hauling toward an exclusive franchise system. Under a proposal from the Bureau of Sanitation, the city's six trash zones would be divided into 11 collection areas. The city government would then be in charge of setting rates and handing out franchise agreements to a limited number of garbage companies.

"There’s no legitimate means for accountability in this (current) system," said Maria Elena Durazo, head of the county Federation of Labor. "The Latino immigrant workers, the African-American workers, men and women who are most of the workforce deserve better."

The vote went against a recommendation from the City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. He recommended the city move to a non-exclusive franchise system, which would allow more haulers to operate in the city and negotiate directly with private businesses. That system would generate as much as $30 million a year in franchise fees for the city, Santana said. 

Councilman Tony Cardenas voted for the exclusive deal, though he later said it was disingenuous to say an exclusive franchise is the only way to improve the environmental standards of trash haulers. The councilman also noted that messing with a business' day-to-day operations could have an economic impact. 

"When you hurt a business, you can hurt their ability to keep their doors open and that means jobs," Cardenas said. 

At Cardenas' request, the CAO’s report was sent to the city council so the non-exclusive option may remain on the table.

The Bureau of Sanitation, which is made up of city employees, is responsible for collecting garbage from L.A.’s single-family homes. The committees' recommendation was forward to the full Los Angeles City Council for consideration. 

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