10 Things You Need to Know About Oakland’s Garbage Rate Increase

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By Jean Lee
Oakland Local

Oakland residents can expect increases in their garbage rates, beginning next July. (Peter Kaminski/Flickr)
Oakland residents can expect increases in their garbage rates when a new contract takes effect next July. (Peter Kaminski/Flickr)

Currently, Oakland residents pay their garbage bills through Waste Management of Alameda County: $29.80 a month for single-family homes and $474.20 for 20-unit buildings. The City Council voted Wednesday night to award a new garbage contract to California Waste Solutions, and Oakland residents can expect their garbage bills to increase by next year. Here are 10 things you should know about the situation.

  1.  The City Council has spent three years and $1 million in consulting fees to decide on a new garbage contract. Despite the city’s efforts to attract competitive bids, only two bidders went for the contract: California Waste Solutions and Waste Management.
  2. Both CWS and Waste Management currently serve Oakland. Waste Management collects the city’s trash and residential compost, along with handling residential recycling in East Oakland. They also run a transfer station for waste processing and an East Bay landfill. CWS is currently in charge of residential recycling for around half of the city, but does not have a facility to sort trash yet.
  3. CWS proposed a 10-year plan in which single-family rates would increase 24 percent to $36.82 per month, and the rates on 20-unit buildings would increase 15 percent to $546.97 per month. Waste Management proposed four rate tables, and city staff initially urged the council to go through with a Waste Management proposal that would have increased rates by 50 percent. However, the company reduced its price, and Waste Management staff recommended their rate option C, which is only $1.89 more than the CWS proposal.
  4. Although the CWS proposal is cheaper, the 10-year contract does allow rate increases that may be higher than anticipated from 2016 through 2019. Also, some critics say that since the company doesn’t have as much experience as Waste Management, it may not be able to get the resources in time to do the job when the contract begins, in addition to the potential for the company to request expenses and rate hikes in the future.
  5. CWS is based in West Oakland, whereas Waste Management is based in Houston.
  6. The rate increases include services like curbside bulky pickup, which gives tenants in multi-family homes a way to get rid of bulky pieces like furniture and mattresses instead of illegally dumping them.
  7. Waste Management has held a garbage contract with the city for over a century. CWS started collecting a share of the city’s recycling more than 10 years ago, and has never had a residential garbage contract before.
  8. California Waste Solutions has agreed to partner with Civicorps a nonprofit that runs organics collection services and trains and employs Oakland high school dropouts.
  9. Many think it’s time for a rate increase. It has been 15 years since the last garbage rate hike in Oakland.
  10. The city’s current garbage contract expires June 2015. The new contract will go into effect July 2015.