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Atherton OKs trash-collection rate hikes

Original post made on May 20, 2011

Struggling to reduce a shortfall as high as $1.3 million that the town is projected to owe for garbage collection services, the Atherton City Council approved garbage rate hikes ranging from 15.5 percent to 59 percent, depending on level of service.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 20, 2011, 5:19 PM

Comments (8)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

The new rates are still a huge percentage increase but I have no idea if the new rates are overall outrageous or typical. Almanac - how do these rates compare with similar towns (Los Altos, Saratoga, Hillsboro, etc.) and average costs (national, state)?

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2011 at 5:11 am

What increase? By simply going to a 20 gallon container and fully utilizing the one free recycle, one additional recycle container at $3/mo and the two free compost containers I will have reduced my monthly bill to $23 - a reduction of over 70%.

The only problem with the new rates is that they will not cover the Town's contractual obligation to Recology and the difference will have to be made up from either non-existent general funds or next year's rate increase.

From: Peter Carpenter
Date: May 18, 2011 3:27:53 PM PDT
To: Peter Carpenter <>
Cc: Theresa DellaSanta <>, William Widmer <>, Elizabeth Lewis <>, Jerry Carlson <>, James Dobbie <>, kathy mckeithen <>,

Dear Council Members,
The proposed rate schedule is an economic instrument that is intended to change/encourage 'appropriate' recycling behavior. In fact, the proposed rate schedule will subsidize local landscaping services and will fail to recover the actual costs of garbage, recycling and compost services. Any intelligent resident will, based on this rate schedule, just minimize the size of their garbage can and maximize their use of the very cheap recycling and composting bins.
I confess - I am a "can migrator". I have just changed my Recology service to a 20 gallon garbage can and will therefore pay considerably less per month than I did last year. There is no way that my monthly fees will cover the cost of picking up weekly my 20 gallon garbage bin, my two 64 gallon recycling bins ( soon to become one 96 gallon bin at NO cost) and three composting bins (soon to become two at NO cost).
The shortfall produced by the proposed rate schedule vs the Town's contractual liability to Recology will be, in my estimation, significant. The Town has no alternative but to cover that shortfall either from general funds or by significant increases in future garbage rates.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Perhaps as the FBI pursues it's scrutiny of the workings and players of San Mateo County's political machine, it will also have some light to shed on how the garbage mafia was able to manipulate the various municipalities into this ridiculous contract.
Atherton, for example, out sources it's City Planning to a firm which serves a similar function for at a third of all Cities in the County--this contract Planner is the representative that Atherton selected to negotiate waste management on it's behalf.
Why would Recology need to care what Atherton might accept, when they only needed to sell their proposal to a Firm with influence in multiple Cities to win many cities for their contracts?

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Ed is absolutely correct - the ten year contract with Recology is a disaster and it was negotiated by the SBWMA on behalf of the the 12 participating cities. Not one member of the SBWMA Board of Directors is an elected official.

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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Peter. If you only knew how correct you are......Perhaps one day we can discuss this in private. Your toes would curl

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Posted by Silvio Dante
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm

'how the garbage mafia'

Why, I've never heard of such a thing... Paulie, have you?


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

As has been mentioned above, Atherton's outside contract City Planner is who served as a SBWMA Board member and as the Town's representative who negotiated this contract on it's behalf.
I understand that this person also recently was able to purchase the firm that had employed her from her boss, the previous owner of Neil Martin Associates. Did she actually generate enough revenue for herself while re-writing Atherton's Building Code. the Zoning Ordinances, the General Plan, and Housing Ordinance to buy the company that had perviously employed her? Or did she need to take on partners?
And Which possibility is the most scary?
Also why was she not in attendance at the last week's Council Meeting on the Garbage Contract issue?
Just wondering

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Posted by Heidi W
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

If it costs $19.35 to service each green barrel waste, then why are the first two barrels free and why would we pay only $6 per barrel for additional barrels? What am I missing here? The black barrels determine our payment rates but they have no correlation to the number of green barrels we use, right?

BTW, I will be reducing my black container size (which was half empty each week anyway) to keep my costs low but that's not going to be of much help to the city in reducing its shortfall.

The whole garbage dilemma isn't making much sense right now. Whenever that happens, I ask myself "Who's benefitting?" A sage friend once told me, "Follow the money trail," and the answers will become apparent.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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