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LA City Council backs exclusive system for commercial trash haulers

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The L.A. City Council has endorsed a new system for collecting trash from apartment buildings and commercial properties.

A proposal to change how private haulers collect garbage at businesses and apartment buildings was endorsed Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

In an 11-3 vote, the council backed the idea of an “exclusive franchise” system, which would carve up the city into 11 zones, each served by one trash company. It hasn't been determined whether a company can operate in more than one zone. Public Works will now have 90 days to develop an implementation plan. 

The system could be phased in as early as next year for apartment buildings, but not until 2017 for commercial properties. The city currently issues permits to about 45 companies that collect trash from apartment and commercial buildings.

Under the new system, the City of Los Angeles can require haulers to operate clean fuel vehicles, meet recycling goals, and pay workers a living wage. The city would also be responsible for setting rates. Councilman Eric Garcetti argued that the new system will have various benefits.

“The sheer size of our marketshare and our leverage ensures not only that we’ll have worker conditions that are fair, not only will we have a better environment, but we can protect businesses from the costs as well,” Garcetti said.

Construction and demolition waste would be exempted from the new policy. Of the city’s 800 private trash haulers, 755 work exclusively in construction. City staff will also work with film studios and hospitals to determine how their trash needs may differ from brick-and-mortar businesses. 

The dissenting votes were from council members Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Mitch Englander. They wanted a “non-exclusive franchise” model, which they say would create a more competitive marketplace because more haulers would be allowed to operate. Englander, who just yesterday voted against placing a city sales tax on the March ballot, also noted that the Bureau of Sanitation would have to hire six new staffers to oversee the exclusive franchise.

“I cannot in good conscience support the creation of a new city bureaucracy that requires additional city staff and resources when we are unable to provide the core services required by our charter and expected by the taxpayers,” Englander said.

The exclusive system was backed by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The L.A. Chamber of Commerce opposed the idea. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Disposal Association has threatened to sue the city if a full environmental study is not conducted before an ordinance is introduced. 

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