News - September 10, 2008

Board recommends NorCal over Allied Waste for garbage collection

by Marion Softky

A major fight is brewing over garbage franchises in central and south San Mateo County. NorCal Waste Systems of San Mateo County is challenging Allied Waste for contracts to collect trash and recyclable materials from homes and businesses starting Jan. 1, 2011.

The board of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority, representing 12 jurisdictions from East Palo Alto to Burlingame, voted Aug. 28 to recommend that the 10-year contract go to NorCal. The vote was 9-0, with Burlingame abstaining, and Atherton and East Palo Alto absent. Representatives of Menlo Park, West Bay Sanitary District and unincorporated San Mateo County supported NorCal.

The board vote for NorCal reflected the unanimous recommendation of a selection committee that analyzed the four proposals for garbage collection in the authority's area.

Allied Waste countered with a request that the authority consider its alternative proposal to continue collecting waste, and also to retrofit and operate the Shoreway Recycling and Disposal Center in San Carlos. The Allied Waste contract expires Dec. 31, 2010.

Next, the fight will move to city councils and authority member boards, which hold individual franchises for garbage collection with Allied Waste. Each member agency will separately review the contract and decide whether to shift its franchise from Allied Waste to Norcal.

Cliff Feldman, recycling project manager for the authority, told the Almanac: "The final decision is made by each individual city. We don't supercede their jurisdiction."

Concurrently, the authority is negotiating with two firms to rebuild, expand, and operate the Shoreway Recycling and Transfer Station in San Carlos. At the station, recycled materials are processed, and garbage is transferred to big trucks for a trip to the landfill at Ox Mountain, which is owned and operated by Allied Waste.

Seven firms, including Allied Waste and Norcal, bid on this contract.

Case for Norcal

"The Norcal proposal offers the best value to customers," said Kent Steffens, Menlo Park's director of public works and a member of the committee evaluating the proposals. "It will make it easier to recycle."

NorCal Waste Systems is based in San Francisco and provides collection and recycling services in more than a dozen communities in Northern California, including San Francisco. It also operates landfills.

Under the Norcal proposal, garbage, green waste and recycling will be picked up every week. Each household will receive three carts: a 96-gallon green cart for organics; a 64-gallon blue cart for "single stream" recycling (paper, bottles and cans mixed together); and a 32-gallon black cart for garbage. All three carts will have wheels.

Collection fees are projected to rise by 10 percent.

"It was a clear choice to go to Norcal," said Kevin McCarthy, executive director of the authority. "Our local residents and businesses win big with this selection."

Fighting back

Allied Waste fired off a letter to officials in the 12-agencies in the authority's service area, and was represented at the Aug. 28 hearing. The company claims it could save more than $54 million over the 10-year life of the contract.

"Our proposal actually provides significant improvement in services and in the level of recycling for our 12 member communities," said Evan Boyd, general manager for Allied Waste in San Mateo County.

Allied Waste's alternative proposal, submitted last spring, points to "obvious efficiencies from one company managing both collections and the transfer station" — as it does now.

The Allied Waste proposal also suggests a less expensive retrofit of the Shoreway recycling facility to handle single-stream recycling. It offers to extend the agreement for use of the Ox Mountain landfill by one year, from 2019 to 2020, to coincide with the end of the new collection contract.

Allied Waste also offers to go to automated collection, weekly recycling, and single-stream collection before 2011.

"Our proposal offers the county's 103,000 ratepayers the best approach to waste collection and diversion, with the greatest possible savings, and with increased accountability by Allied Waste," Mr. Boyd said.


Posted by Tim Clayton, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm

The decision by the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to recommend NorCal over Allied Waste should not be taken lightly. As the former Manager of the West Bay Sanitary District I wish to alert the more than 100,000 customers of the JPA that the determinations of the JPA are made with very little input by public officials.

Indeed it is my experience that the JPA (made up of government employees, since the JPA does not allow the placement of elected officials upon its Board) is nothing more than a self sustaining boondoggle.

If you believe that your local elected officials are aware of the ramifications of the massive contract about to be undertaken by the SBWMA, pick up your telephone and call them. You might be well surprised by the lack of understanding of the actions recommended by the Authority's Commissioners to the local jurisdictions.

Recommendations that many of the Authority's Commissioners will not be subject to themselves since they do NOT live within the Authority's jurisdiction.

The FACT is that Allied Waste, while not perfect, has at least made every attempt to provide the very best service possible, has always responded to my former customers complaints, and has made every attempt to meet or exceed the wishes of the Authority.

Let me make it clear that I "carry no torch" for Allied Waste. However after nineteen years of being intimately involved in negotiating the Franchise Agreement for Allied Waste and the West Bay Sanitary District I can assure my former customers that the transition from one service provider to another will be long and arduous, notwithstanding promises made in an initial contract negotiation.

The transfer of service from Allied Waste to NorCal would make sense if it were to provide better and cheaper service to the Authority's customers. A careful reading (assuming you have two or three weeks with nothing to do) of both proposals will show that neither will be accomplished.

Posted by Col. Korn Holia, a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Sep 9, 2008 at 7:05 pm

It all smells to me.

Posted by Pepe Le Pew, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

Garbage in, garbage out.

Posted by Not Right, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Where is the Grand Jury when you need it? It not only does not smell right, it stinks.

Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Tim Clayton:
"The FACT is that Allied Waste, while not perfect, has at least made every attempt to provide the very best service possible, has always responded to my former customers complaints, and has made every attempt to meet or exceed the wishes of the Authority."

Uh, I don't think so, Mr. Clayton. There has been ongoing problems with Allied right from Day 1 and many communities have continually complained about them.

Sure sounds like you're carrying water for Allied!

Posted by Jim Elliot, a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Oct 22, 2008 at 10:06 am

Good riddance....

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