Complaints: City’s Wastehauling Program Failing Business Owners, Consumers

By City News Service

In response to thousands of complaints about the city’s new commercial wastehauling program, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion Wednesday that seeks information on service providers while threatening to cancel any that are not meeting their obligations.

The RecycLA went into effect in July 2017 and has been rife with problems, as the city has received 28,000 complaints about missed collections and 1,500 bill inspections revealing 1,000 inaccurate bills, the motion states.

“What has been happening is not the world-class commercial waste-hauling system the City Council voted for, it is not the system that LA Sanitation designed, and we must not put up with any companies who are not performing to the high standards we set. Period,” Koretz said.

The franchise waste hauling system that became operational July 1 is meant to expand recycling opportunities to thousands of businesses and apartment buildings while also cutting down on pollution by reducing the number of trucks on the street.

Under the RecycLA system, seven companies handle an estimated $3.5 billion in commercial waste hauling in Los Angeles. Each company is assigned as the sole trash hauler for commercial sites and multi-family complexes in one or more of the city’s 11 zones.

Some customers have complained about skyrocketing costs under the new program, while maintaining that the quality of service has fallen, and several City Council members have said their offices have been flooded with calls since it was implemented.

Some business and apartment complexes have reported bills that were as high as four times the previous rate while receiving the same or worse service.

“LASAN appreciates the commitment of the councilmembers to the success of the program, and will continue to work with them to hold the service providers accountable for providing RecycLA customers with the timely and responsive services they expect and deserve,” Elena Stern, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department, told City News Service.

Koretz’s motion would direct the Bureau of Sanitation to report in 30 days to the City Council on whether certain RecycLA service providers have failed to fulfill their obligations, and whether to “proceed with taking the necessary steps to terminate their individual contracts for such substantial failure.”

The motion comes ahead of a Feb. 1 deadline when the city can begin to levy fines or move to cancel contracts with RecycLA service providers.

“When I voted for this, we were promised a world-class system. We are not going to stop demanding improvements in RecycLA until we get just that,” Koretz said. “If any of the service providers doing business with the city don’t understand or can’t live up to their contractual obligations, we are happy to show them the door and replace them with companies who will.”

In response to the billing issues, the city created an online portal in December that allows customers to submit billing disputes and get information about trash pickup.

“Inappropriate overcharges for trash pickup are unacceptable, so we are making sure that Angelenos can more easily submit billing disputes, and better understand how to keep costs as low as possible,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in December.

“I know this transition has been tough for some customers — so we’ll keep working hard to ensure that RecycLA works for people in this city, and meets our goal to make L.A. cleaner, greener, and healthier.”

Garcetti’s office said at the time that more than three-quarters of customers pay only the base rate, but some have reported sudden cost increases.

Koretz is not the only council member to threaten to cancel contracts with RecycLA service providers for poor service or high rates.

About six weeks after the program started and the negative reports
were starting to roll in, Councilman Paul Krekorian said during an August 2017 committee meeting that he hoped companies granted a monopoly were not “doubling down by increasing rates, by manipulating the bin handling in a way that will oversell their service to their customers. In fact, quite to the mcontrary, I expect those providers who have been given this monopoly to go the other way to bend over backwards and ensure that each and every customer’s needs are met.”

He added, “I, for one, will be looking at changes in this policy if I don’t see that result.”
 

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January 11, 2018  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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