L.A. Trash War Underway
The Los Angeles trash industry is in the midst of a battle this week with waste haulers, leaving many businesses up in arms.
Hundreds are set to testify before the Public Works Board at City Hall over a controversial proposal to change the method of trash collecting outside large apartments and businesses.
The first public meeting took place Monday in which leaders considered a variety of measurements that would look toward a new trash hauling system. As of now, the waste business revolves around a number of private trash collectors across the city.
The new system, proposed by the Bureau of Sanitation, would select one private waste hauler to serve 11 newly drawn franchise zones over 10 years with two five-year renewal options. These zones are expected to exempt construction-waste haulers, who account for most of the small mom-and-pop companies in the waste hauling business.
Adrian Martinez, an attorney with Natural Resources defense council, believes an exclusive trash system allows for many environmental benefits, from reducing the number of trash trucks on the road to reducing L.A.'s land fill problem.
"It allows the government to set a higher standard for picking up waste in Los Angeles," he said. "Waste is something that impacts everyone in Los Angeles. We need to make sure we have responsible systems to make this a very green city."
The labor-allied groups and environmentalists support this new system. They say it would increase recycling and reduce both traffic and pollution from trucks driving to scattered locations throughout the city.
A new state recycling law will come into effect by July and environment supporters demand that cleaner trucks will help support this goal. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also hopes to redirect 70 percent of L.A.’s waste by next year and 90 percent of waste by 2025.
But businesses and a majority of waste haulers fear it will cut the amount of waste collector jobs and force the closure of small business. They warn that the proposal will cost businesses a bundle, eliminate choice, and create mini-monopolies.
"The idea that the city of Los Angeles would be negotiating better rates on my trash-hauling for me is sort of scary," said the President of the Apartment Association of Los Angeles Richard Otterstorm.
"The city is struggling to stay above water and not go bankrupt and I would not like to see them negotiating any of my contracts," he added.
Otterstorm, like many apartment complex owners, is afraid the city will lead his business into bankruptcy, but he does support the environmental benefits.