Long Beach could be the next major California city to award exclusive contracts to a select number of trash haulers who service local businesses and larger apartment buildings

The push to move away from the current commercial waste system – a non-exclusive, competitive structure – comes from economic and social justice advocates who say overlapping truck routes in dense urban areas result in adverse health and environmental impacts. The big, bulky vehicles also exacerbate wear and tear on city streets and alleyways, and pose potential public safety hazards to youth playing on sidewalks, officials say.

But because of the capital costs required to run a waste and recycling franchise, including keeping up with state environmental mandates, California law requires public agencies to give haulers a five-year notice that a local system could be changing.

And that’s what Long Beach just did.

Led by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, the City Council on Tuesday voted to put the city’s 15 haulers on notice, while simultaneously initiating a study that explores options for modernizing the system, in part, to ensure Long Beach meets goals to expand recycling and reduce the amount of waste headed for landfills.

“As a major Californian city it’s our responsibility to do our due diligence to make sure we’re setting a standard for the region, driving a dialogue on good jobs, a clean environment and a sustainable community,” he said.

Lofty Recycling Goals Set

California has implemented a series of ambitious recycling targets to hit over the next eight years, including a goal for 75 percent statewide recycling by 2020 as well as a statewide goal to divert 75 percent of organic waste from landfills by 2025.

The city study will not consider changes to residential service, handled by Long Beach’s Environmental Services Bureau, which collects trash and recycling from single-family homes and apartment buildings with fewer than 10 units.

To demonstrate why Long Beach should re-evaluate its system, Richardson pointed to a corner in the 9th District that includes two shopping centers, Houghton Park and several apartment complexes — an area serviced by seven different trash companies with a total of 12 contracts, he said.

“Those neighborhoods are disrupted by large trucks every day of the week,” he said.

In addition to worries about pollution and quality of life impacts, he said the city’s roadways take a beating from the overlapping truck routes, increasing the cost of infrastructure repairs.

He referenced a 2011 study that analyzed pavement conditions in several Northern California cities, titled “The Pothole Report: Can The Bay Area Have Better Roads?” that found heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses, put far more stress on pavement than the average passenger car.

For instance, a bus exerts more than 7,000 times the stress on pavement than a typical SUV, while garbage trucks exert about 9,300 times more stress. Not surprisingly, roadways with heavy usage need maintenance more frequently.

Public Works Director Craig Beck acknowledged the high cost of maintaining city streets and alleys, and said if there’s a way to lengthen investments made by residents, the city would be interested in doing so. Those are things that will be included in the study, he said.

To read the full story, visit http://www.presstelegram.com/government-and-politics/20170527/long-beach-explores-changes-to-trash-contracts-for-businesses-apartment-buildings.