Thursday, September 18, 2014

Updated: Compromise Deal Reached on Oakland Garbage Contract

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said this morning that a tentative deal has been reached to settle the dispute over the city’s garbage contract. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Waste Management would continue to collect garbage and green waste for the entire city while California Waste Solutions (CWS) would handle all the recycling, the mayor said. Waste Management also has agreed to drop its legal challenges and its voter-referendum drive to overturn the city council’s decision to award the entire contract to CWS. 

“We’re going to have the greenest contract in the country,” said Quan, who was in on the negotiations and had been pushing for weeks for the terms included in the tentative pact. “And it will be much cheaper than originally proposed.”

click to enlarge Jean Quan.
  • Jean Quan.
Currently, Waste Management collects all garbage and green waste in the city, and collects recycling for half of Oakland. CWS, meanwhile, collects recyclables from the other half of the city.

But under a controversial plan approved by the city council last month, CWS was to take over all garbage, green waste, and recycling collection in Oakland beginning next July. Critics of the council’s decision noted that CWS had never before handled a contract of this magnitude, and contended that CWS would come back to the city to raise rates once it officially took over the pact. West Oakland residents were also concerned about CWS’ plan to build a large trash sorting facility on a section of the former Oakland Army Base, noting that West Oakland is already over-run with truck traffic because of the Port of Oakland.

Waste Management also filed suit against the city, alleging that the council violated the law when it handed CWS the entire contract — because CWS didn’t originally bid on the entire contract. Waste Management said the city also illegally provided CWS with Waste Management’s bid plans.

In addition, Waste Management launched a voter-referendum initiative to overturn the council’s decision. The referendum, however, has been mired in controversy because of allegations that paid signature gatherers have been lying to voters about the garbage contract issue so as to get them to sign the petition.

Waste Management spokesman David Tucker declined to comment on the tentative compromise deal, indicating that it had not yet been finalized. The city council must still approve the tentative pact.

CWS officials were not immediately available for comment.

Update 9/19 8:10 a.m.: The following statement was issued jointly yesterday afternoon by Quan, Waste Management, and California Waste Solutions:

“For the last several weeks, Waste Management of Alameda County, California Waste Solutions and Mayor Quan have been working together to negotiate an agreement that would maintain low rates for Oakland residents and ensure consistent pick-up service. We have reached a tentative agreement that we believe will do those things and continue making Oakland among the greenest cities in the United States. The details will be released at noon Friday so the public can review it before a special City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, where we hope to work with the Council to approve this major step forward for Oakland. We are grateful to everyone who has put in long hours on this issue, including both companies’ negotiators, administration staff and the City Council. By coming together to work through tough issues, everyone involved has put Oakland first, and we look forward to our next steps together.”

Staff writer Sam Levin contributed to this report.

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