After much deliberation, the Hermosa Beach City Council voted 4-1 to move from the city’s current flat-rate waste collection to a system that charges customers based on the size and number of containers they use for trash and recyclables.
The crowd, which filled the council chambers and spilled into the lobby, applauded the action.
The council also voted 3-2 to begin contract negotiations with Athens Services—one of the final three bidders, instead of with incumbent Consolidated Disposal Services or Crown Disposal.
The bidders had all submitted proposals for both types of waste collection systems—a "cart system" or the existing flat-rate "manual single stream" system, which allows refuse and recyclables to be co-mingled in a single container, requiring only one trash vehicle to empty the container. Recyclables are later retrieved during processing at a sorting center.
The cat system—where people pay for waste collection services based on the size and number of waste containers used—typically means citizens who don't produce large amounts of refuse may ultimately pay less per month than they currently do, while others, such as large families, may pay more because they need more waste container.
"I'm very glad that the city has very wisely chosen to separate recycling streams," Hermosa Beach resident Robert Fortunado said of the decision. "The cross-contamination (from a single stream system) could only mean that more would go to the landfill."
Before the vote to choose the type of waste collection, each of the three potential waste haulers, consultants from HF&F and citizens had the opportunity to present information.
Of more than a dozen citizens who spoke, the majority supported the cart system, largely agreeing to the idea of keeping separate streams for refuse and recyclables. Nevertheless, others asked the council before the vote to continue the flat-rate option.
"If you approve this option, my monthly bill will go up 38 percent, and that's using the least expensive company and reducing one of my bins," resident Clayton Shepherd told the council. "Another big problem I have is that an additional truck will have to be coming up my small, narrow street for green waste pickup. That would be three trucks now coming up my street that is already a horribly worn surface.
"I'm concerned that I will have to change the rental agreements for the tenants in my rentals. I have a predictable cost now, but by going to option one, I don't know what the costs will be. From the staff reports tonight, there is an extra $5 charge if a person puts out one extra container. Every tenant and landlord in this city should be concerned," he said.
The overall cost for waste collection services would have increased under all of the proposals at last night's meeting, according to HF&F Consultants, LLC, an advisory firm hired by the city.
Councilman Peter Tucker made the motion to approve the cart system option.
Councilman Michael DiVirgilio agreed. "There's a lot of reasons I like the option, but why I like it most is that I think it's an early effort to actually have people pay for what they need,” he said.
Councilman Kit Bobko was the only dissenting vote.
Tucker also motioned to select Athens Services as the waste collection agency the city will negotiate with, but councilman Howard Fishman and Mayor Jeff Duclos disagreed.
Fishman's substitute motion to award the contract negotiations to Crown Disposal failed in a 2-3 vote; the council then voted 3-2 to negotiate with Athens Services, selecting Crown Disposal as the alternate.
Consolidated, the city's current waste hauler, was left out of the equation.
"Consolidated, we appreciate what you've done with us over the years and we thank your drivers and everyone else," Bobko said. "This is a tough choice, and it's probably one of the hardest ones I've had to make as a councilman.”