LA WATCHDOG - The City of Los Angeles is required to divert 75% of its organic waste from landfills by the end of 2024 according to a state law (SB 1383) that was enacted in 2016. This law is designed to eliminate the source of “super polluting” greenhouse gases from landfills throughout California.
Unfortunately, the City’s Bureau of Sanitation has been unable to get their act together on a timely basis and is just beginning to roll out its program to over 700,000 households whose trash (and organic materials contained in our green bins) is collected by Sanitation. (Apartment complexes consisting of five or more units are serviced by high cost independent contractors.)
In its January 19 editorial, Los Angeles Quietly Rolls Out Curbside Composting, Maybe too Quietly, the Los Angeles Times criticized the City for its failure to educate Angelenos about this important environmental program and the need to recycle organic materials in our green trash bins.
At the same time, despite repeated requests, Sanitation has not provided Angelenos with information about the costs of this program or the impact on the City’s Solid Waste Resources Fee that is part of our eagerly awaited bimonthly bill from the Department of Water and Power.
Based on City documents, the projected cost over the next ten years will be in the hundreds of millions for homeowners and other entities serviced by Sanitation. This includes operating and maintenance expenses as well as significant capital costs.
If this program costs in the range of $30 million a year, that will require a 10% increase in our Solid Waste Fee.
The City has also indicated that the Solid Waste Resource Fee has not increased since 2009 when Mayor Villaraigosa tripled the fee from $11 to $36 a month, supposedly to support the Police Department. (Controller Laura Chick exposed Villaraigosa’s duplicity.) We can expect an increase of at least $50 million in this portion of the fee.
The City is also considering requiring ratepayers to pay an additional $60 to $80 million to cover the subsidies paid for by the City’s General Fund to cover various related costs such as pensions and medical benefits for employees of Sanitation.
Overall, Angelenos may be looking at funding an immediate increase of $30 million (10%) to cover the composting program and an additional $100 million (33%) or more over time to pay for increased costs of trash collection and to eliminate General Fund subsidies.
The City Council owes us some answers.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)