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Pacifica Trashes Democracy

Garbage collection in Pacifica is a joke. Not the funny kind.

It had been for years under the Coastside Scavengers. The trash company gets a monopoly contract forcing us to use their services, like it or not, and pay for them if we make other arrangements. Rates in Pacifica are the highest in San Mateo County. When the contract went to Recology, it was hoped that rates might become more reasonable. As Pacifica Riptide documents, the recent 8% increase brings local rates quite a bit higher than those of nearby cities.

Pacifica rates for a 20-gallon cart are about 30% higher than Millbrae's. And a 32-gallon cart in Pacifica is 44% higher than in San Bruno. [Not a misprint: forty-four percent.] An official reason probably exists, but there is no excuse for such a disparity in the cost of the exact same service.

The strangest part of the process is that Pacifica customers had a chance to stop the rate increase. At least on paper.

The notice of a "Garbage Rate Increase Rate Hearing" on May 23 included this message within the fine print:

If written protests against the proposed charges are presented by a majority of customers liable for payment of the fees, then Recology will not impose the proposed changes.

Sounds fair, right? You need not attend the hearing, just mail a note that you protest the increases. Very democratic-sounding.

Only if you've ever been involved in gathering petition signatures or organizing any kind of protest, you are well aware that getting over 50% of the population to sign anything is not difficult, it is impossible. So the City Council can claim they didn't get many protests. What they will not say is that most people didn't protest because they believe it to be an exercise in futility.

And since most of the Rate Hearing notices get recycled back to Recology without being read, it is likely that most customers never saw the message about the effectiveness of written protests.

When was the last time you got an 8% pay increase? Same here.

Pacifica is great, the City Council disgraceful.

— May 30, 2011, Pacifica

  ©2011 Gary Tutin Get Back   Home   Next