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This article, "The Ballot Initiative to Repeal the Exclusive Trash Franchise," appeared in CitywatchLA, March 12, 2018, and was reprinted with their permission. 

Light editing for clarity by TNN

What began in the back rooms of LA City Hall between special interests groups, allies on City Council and the Mayor’s Office hit housing providers, HOAs and all commercial business in Los Angeles like a 100-foot tsunami.  

The Los Angeles Exclusive Trash Franchise Ordinance [dubbed the user-friendly Recycle LA by the City] spread through the development and implementation process at record speed and crashed down upon an unsuspecting business community and housing providers.

With the City of Los Angeles increasing the base rate as high as 100% above current cost and the additional charges being charged by the franchise haulers, rates were raised as high as 1,000%.  The sticker shock hit business owners, housing providers and home owners associations.

Companies that had been collecting commercial trash (some for as long as 60 years) were not awarded any of the 11 Franchise  Zones and received notice from the City that as of August 1, 2017, they could no longer service their customers or pick up commercial trash.  Many customers subsequently saw their trash pickup stop for weeks on end, unaware this takeover by a private industry had even taken place. They saw their trash pile up for days and weeks and calls to their prior provider informed them the company was no servicing and referred the customer to the LA Sanitation Department, which in turn referred them to the designated franchise hauler. Many were told there was a “phase in” process and they would just have to wait.

In some cases, the Health Department issued citations based on unsanitary conditions due to the accumulation of trash.

There were almost 25,000 customer complaints in the first six-month period.  Why were so many of those impacted unaware of an issue so directly impacting them?

Documents submitted by the LA City Attorney in connection to the legal challenge shed some light on the lack of notice; With just 19 days to go before the July 1, 2017, transition date, only 28,000 of the 90,000 commercial customers had been sent a notice of the change by LA Sanitation. Of those 90,000 customers, only 8,000 had been given an evaluation of their service and only 2,000 had contracts for the new service.

This after more than 7 years of preparation?  Who was tasked with the planning?

In March of  2017 the Department of Public Works requested the LA City Council authorize $4,200,000 to CH2MHill Engineers Inc. (in addition to the $6,000,000 for their services) to develop and implement the Franchise System.

How has that worked out?

The legal challenge to the Ordinance is making its way through the courts and being represented by a major class action lawfirm. Case BC677423 was filed against the City of Los Angeles and the Department of Sanitation for: 

1. Injunction and Declaratory Relief Against Defendants Based on violations of California Constitution Articles XIII C and D (also known as Proposition 218, also known as “the Right to Vote on Taxes Act”)

2. Monetary Relief Against Defendants Based on Violations of California Constitution Articles XIII C and D (also known as Proposition 218, also known as “the Right to Vote on Taxes Act”)

3. Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations 

4. Fraud & Deceit

As the legal challenge proceeds, other battles are being waged.

An effort is currently under way to have an Initiative placed on the November 2018 ballot. This would repeal the Exclusive Franchise System and replace it with a Non-Exclusive Franchise. The petition was approved for circulation by the Los Angeles City Clerk and is currently being circulated by over 500 volunteers.

Our goal is to have 1,000 individuals on the streets and in businesses, collecting signatures. 

You can support the effort by going to our website Nolatrashmonopoly.com and requesting a petition be sent to you to collect signatures. If you have a business you can gather signatures from your customers if you are a registered voter. 

Join the fight and let’s work together to Repeal the LA Trash Franchise.


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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