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Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Proposition A
Garbage Collection and Disposal
City and County of San Francisco

initiative petition - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 32697 / 23.43% Yes votes ...... 106848 / 76.57% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of June 15 4:12pm, 100% of Precincts Reporting
Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City use a competitive bidding process to award five separate agreements for trash and recycling services; require that garbage processing and transfer facilities be owned by the City and located in San Francisco;require the Board of Supervisors to approve maximum rates for garbage services; and allow the Board of Supervisors to make future amendments that advance the purposes of this ordinance without further voter approval?

Summary Prepared by Ballot Simplification Committee:
The Way It Is Now: Any company that collects, disposes of or transports garbage (trash, recyclables or compostables without commercial value) in San Francisco must have a City-issued permit. Each permit authorizes collection in a specific area of the City. A single company currently holds all the permits. The City does not use a competitive process to select providers. These providers are required to implement the City's zero-waste goals for recycling and composting.

Rates for collection are set as follows:

  • For residential properties, the City's Rate Board sets the rates.
  • For commercial properties, under current law, the City does not set the rates. In practice, rates are determined by the provider, generally based on rate tables established by the Rate Board. Services are agreed upon by the owner and the provider.

Currently the City does not own or lease the processing and transfer facilities. These facilities are in San Francisco.

The Proposal: Proposition A would require the City to replace its permit system with a competitive bidding process. Under that process, the City would competitively award five separate agreements for the following services:

  • residential collection of trash, recyclables and compostables;
  • commercial collection of trash, recyclables and compostables;
  • recovery and processing of recyclables and compostables;
  • transportation to disposal sites outside the City; and
  • disposal of remaining waste.

The measure would require that the City own the processing and transfer facilities used under these agreements and that they be located in San Francisco. Each agreement would be for a 10-year term and would be citywide. The measure would prohibit a single company from providing both recycling recovery services and garbage disposal services.

Proposition A would require the competitive bidding process for garbage and recycling services to give priority to the following factors: zero-waste goals that maximize recycling; competitive rates; welfare of workers in the industry; and recovery of the City's costs for bidding and administering the program. It would also require the process to give preference to bidders that use small businesses and hire City residents.

Proposition A would require the Board of Supervisors to approve the maximum rates that residential and commercial customers could be charged for trash and recycling services.

Proposition A would authorize the Board of Supervisors to make future amendments to this ordinance, without further voter approval, to advance the purposes and principles of the measure.

Fiscal Impact from The SF Controller's Office:
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition A: Should the proposed initiative ordinance be adopted, in my opinion, there could be costs and benefits to the City. The impacts would vary depending on how the City implements the ordinance and on the outcome of contracting and rate-setting processes for garbage collection and disposal.

The ordinance makes changes to how the City contracts for and regulates rates for garbage collection, recycling, waste reduction and disposal. These changes include requiring separate competitively bid contracts or franchises for five specified areas of waste services, administering new rate-setting and complaint processes and conducting analysis. These new requirements would significantly increase the City's costs to administer garbage collection, waste reduction and disposal processes. However, the ordinance also generally provides that the City's costs may be recovered through residential and commercial garbage rates and through franchise fees charged to garbage companies. The proposal's intent is that competitive bidding processes will reduce the costs and rates for garbage services. The City currently pays Recology approximately $5.6 million annually for waste and recycling services in City-owned buildings, parks and public spaces. To the degree that the proposal achieves rate reduction, the City's costs for these services would be lowered.

The proposal's most significant costs would occur under a requirement for publicly-owned garbage collection, processing and transfer facilities within the City limits by December 2018. The initiative specifies that these facilities must be publicly owned and privately operated under public-private partnerships.

Until plans are developed, the financing methods, costs or revenues for such facilities cannot be estimated, however, the range would be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Specific costs or savings cannot be determined at this time for other objectives under the ordinance such as increasing competition for garbage services, creating jobs and minimizing environmental impacts. This statement does not address the potential impact of this proposal on the local economy or businesses.

Impartial Analysis from the SF Department of Elections
How "A" Got on the Ballot On August 15, 2011, the Department of Elections certified that the initiative petition calling for Proposition A to be placed on the ballot had a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. 7,168 signatures were required to place an initiative ordinance on the ballot. This number is equal to 5% of the total number of people who voted for Mayor in 2007. A review of all signatures submitted by the proponents of the initiative petition prior to the February 6, 2012, submission deadline showed that the total number of valid signatures was greater than the number required.

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Arguments For Proposition A Arguments Against Proposition A
Vote YES on Prop A! Proposition A is not about Recology, it's about competitive bidding: how City Hall does business. This measure addresses a number of issues found in two City-commissioned studies in 2011:

We pay too much for our garbage and recycling services. Our residential rates have gone up 136% in the last 11 years!

San Jose pays less than half of what we do for the same services + with more people and a much larger land area. (San Jose has competitive bidding after catching Recology in a bribery scandal with their mayor in 2006.)

We don't even have a contract for garbage and recycling services. We are the only Bay Area city that doesn't have a franchise agreement or competitive bidding for such services. Commercial rates are completely unregulated.

The city does not receive a franchise fee for garbage services, leaving a huge hole in our city budget. Oakland gets $24 million each year to support city services and city jobs, from an $80 million contract. San Franciscans pay $220 million in services, and we get nothing as a franchise fee. That means city services get cut, workers get laid off, taxes and fees are raised + while Recology makes whatever profits they choose!

Recology's transfer station sits next door to people's homes. It's in a neighborhood where the average life expectancy is 14 years shorter than on Russian Hill. Proposition A moves the transfer station to vacant public land at the Port, which is better for competitively bid lower rates and safe environmental handling of our refuse.

Two 2011 City government-initiated studies recommend considering competitive bidding for garbage and recycling services. This measure does that; it's the only way to break up the garbage monopoly.

Vote YES on Prop A! Tony Kelly Quentin L. Kopp

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The Proponents of Prop A have made a series of false accusations and factual errors in their argument. We urge a NO vote on Prop A.

The facts:
1. The current system works. San Francisco was recently named the "Greenest City in North America" while maintaining average or below average rates for garbage service in the Bay Area, according to the official 2011 Local Agency Formation Commission report.

2. Voters created the nonpartisan rate board to set garbage rates and have twice rejected similar misguided attempts to dismantle the system that works so well for us.

3. San Francisco's relationship with Recology built our city's recycling and composting system from the ground up -- we have the highest recycling rate of any major city in North America.

4. Today, Recology provides $31,200,000 in fees and free services. Prop A replaces the existing nonpolitical rate board, creating five separate contracts that the Controller says "would significantly increase the City's costs."

5. Proposition A does not require moving a transfer station to the Port or guarantee lower garbage or recycling fees.

6. San Jose's rates are almost identical to ours--and a judge dismissed the politically motivated charges. We stand behind San Francisco based and employee owned Recology, our garbage and recycling service. Recology is on track to achieving Zero Waste by 2020.

Why mess with such a successful system? Vote No on Prop A. Jim Lazarus Vice President, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce* Tim Paulson Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council*

  • For identification purposes only; author is signing as an individual and not on behalf of an organization.
We are Recology. We live here, we work here, we're the employee-owners of Recology -- the garbage and recycling company that has worked to ensure San Francisco is now the "Greenest City in the Country," according to the International Green City Index.

You know us. We collect your garbage, we stand on the recycling lines day in, day out. We built San Francisco's recycling system, so today our city boasts the highest recycling rate in the country. Sometimes it's a dirty job, but we are proud of what we do.

That's why we urge you to Vote NO on A. With so many critical issues facing our city, does the way San Francisco collects and recycles garbage need to be changed? Does change really make sense just because some special interests want it?

Think about it. Would breaking up San Francisco's garbage and recycling services into 5 different contracts + allowing bids by the largest, least "green" companies in the nation--make any sense? There'd be new city bureaucracy. Which company would you call with a problem? Recology works hard, keeping up with the latest technologies to ensure San Francisco has the best available service and greenest future. We take the mandate to reach Zero Waste by 2020 seriously and so far we've accomplished what many said was impossible.

That's why we are proud to tell you our story. Please don't let huge multinational garbage companies that pollute elsewhere end the trust we've built and the success we've achieved together.

Mike Sangiacomo, President, 29 years, Forest Hill* Ayanna Banks, Sorter, 12 years, Bayview* Ramiro Hurtado, Mechanic, 32 years, Mission* Thanh Trang, Sorter, 4 years, Sunset* Micah Gibson, Arts Program Coordinator, 3 years, Castro* Ryan McKee, Driver, 9 years, Richmond* Lana Yu, Customer Service, 10 years, Visitacion Valley*

  • For identification purposes only; author is signing as an individual and not on behalf of an organization.

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
You've seen the ads. There's only one big company in the Proposition A campaign, and that's Recology.

The garbage monopoly is spending millions of dollars
-- ratepayer dollars! -- to protect their profits and their privilege to raise our rates as much as they want. They're spending millions because they don't want a contract in San Francisco. Recology won competitively bid contracts in 16 Bay Area cities. They pay franchise fees to those cities. Why can't they do that here?

The garbage monopoly is spending millions of dollars to scare you.

They claim that five different contracts for garbage services will mean more trucks on the road, but it won't. Three contracts don't involve local trucking at all. So two companies, at most, will be on the streets of San Francisco. Anyone who remembers Norcal and Sunset Scavenger trucks knows that isn't a problem.

They claim that competitive bidding will raise your rates with a new bureaucracy. But the old bureaucracy has raised our rates 136% in 11 years! It's obvious that you will never be less protected against rate increases than you are right now.

They claim that another company will steal their business. But if Recology is anything like the company in their advertising, they will easily win every competitive bid they seek. Every time you see an ad for Recology, think about what they're really buying with all that money. What are they afraid of? For Zero Waste in City government, Vote Yes on Proposition A. Tony Kelly

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Created: July 26, 2012 13:01 PDT
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