Council happy with no-bid trash contract


Recology officials could breathe a sigh of relief Tuesday when the City Council supported the garbage contractor's proposals for a new contract instead of going to bid for the first time in over 80 years.

"You look like you are walking on air," it was said of a Recology official's expression at the end of Tuesday's study session.

Council member Ronit Bryant said she remained "uncomfortable" about not putting the contract out to bid, but she and other previously hesitant members did not object when asked if they supported continued negotiations with Recology for a contract that must begin in April 2013.

Residential rates could go up by 1 to 3 percent, while commercial rates could increase over 20 percent for new recycling and food waste collection services. With a vote on a final contact expected in September, City Council members are set to weigh the cost benefits of various proposals to up the city's recycling rate.

Recology promised a bill over two years that would reflect a two-year freeze on employee wages, while proposing increased recycling services at a cost comparable to other cities, said Lori Topley, Mountain View's solid waste program manager in a report.

Two potential bidders on the city's garbage contract spoke, including Michael Gross of Green Waste Recovery, which promises use of the country's first dry anaerobic digester. It composts organic waste and uses the gas produced to make electricity. "These are not little fantasies, this is happening in San Jose right now," said Gross, who promised meeting the city's waste diversion goal "from day one."

"My grandfather had the contract in Mountain View back in 1939," said Louie Pelligrini, president of Mission Trail Waste Services. "We have the contract in Los Altos after Recology had a 68-year run in that city."

He said his company matched existing costs in Los Altos, increased the diversion rate by nearly 15 percent, brought in new compressed natural gas trucks and weekly food scraps collection. "A competitive process might bring those numbers in for consideration," he said.

Several community members spoke in support of Recology, including Monique Kane, director of Community Health Awareness Council, a non-profit counseling services agency in Mountain View.

"They have helped us in incredible ways garbage-wise, monetarily and with volunteer time," Kane said, adding that Recology helps other non-profits in the city as well.

The city's landfill diversion rate is already pretty good, city officials said, with 70 percent of the city's trash diverted from landfills for recycling over the last year. An additional 7,000 tons of waste could be diverted based on the recommendations of city staff members, half of what is needed for the city's goal of 80 percent.

Under a set of new recommended services and costs, Topley estimates that residential users would see only a 1 to 3 percent increase in their garbage bills in 2013-14 in a new Recology contract, reflecting a 1 percent hike on both residential and commercial customers to cover the cost of new, lower emission garbage trucks powered by compressed natural gas, replacing diesel trucks.

Garbage rates for commercial businesses could go up by over 20 percent for a new collection of organic waste (a 6 to 9 percent hike to divert 1,760 tons) and new enhanced recycling services (a 9 to 11 percent hike to divert 3,300 tons.) Several businesses, including Google, are already participating in a pilot program for composting food waste.

"I'd love to see the city be able to implement organics pickup as soon as it can," said John Dustman, assistant manager of Red Rock Coffee. "We'd love to divert more of our organic waste through such a program."

City staff members don't recommend a 5 to 8 percent increase for a new weekly collection of residential yard trimmings and food scraps, which could divert 900 to 1,400 tons from the landfill yearly, though a free pilot program for residential food scrap collection that is recommended to evaluate the option. Similarly, city leaders don't recommend doubling the number of home recycling pickups, which would increase garbage bills by 4 to 7 percent but only divert an estimated 530 tons from landfills.

Despite complaints about the county's hazardous waste disposal programs, which sometimes involves making appointments to drop off toxic waste in San Jose, a new service allowing toxics to be picked up at a resident's front door is not recommended. Topley said the city could end up paying for the service on top of the county's service and in her report, she writes, "staff believes further entrenching household hazardous waste collection and disposal on the government tax roll undermines the zero-waste principle of extended producer responsibility."

Planning Commissioner Chris Clark asked the council to see about new recycling bins for residents that combine paper and plastic materials, which might make it easier to recycle, he said. Another resident said she looked forward to improvements to Recology's recycling center on Terra Bella Avenue which council member Ronit Bryant agreed was "a mess" in need of a reconfiguration, more parking and new evening hours to allow access for people who work during the day.

It closes at 3 p.m, though it's open Saturdays. When it's closed "people throw everything into the bins, including garbage," the woman said. "There's mattresses, there's furniture, it's potentially a fire hazard."


Like this comment
Posted by GSB
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Chris Clark doesn't have an "e" on his last name.

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Posted by Viejo
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Ya think they could put the trash cans back, or even close to the houses they came from? Mine and my neighbors are always left in the driveway or waaaaaaaay down the street, on their sides.
Of course, that's after the "scavengers" have removed all of the aluminum cans for their own recycling programs. At 0400. In their new $50,000 pickup trucks.

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Posted by Zap
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Can you say "sweetheart deal"??? ... you tell the truth Viejo! ... why am I guessing that "campaign donations" either already HAVE been deposited or WILL be deposited into bank accounts of those board members who just decided that there is no damned good reason to actually put the contract out FOR BID???!!! ... this isn't San Francisco or Los Angeles, but CORRUPTION IS STILL CORRUPTION, even when it takes place in little Mountain View! ... SHAME ON YOU to the council members who just rubber-stamped Recology onto the new contract! And NOT ONLY IS THERE NO COMPETITION FOR THE CONTRACT, but Recology will ALSO RAISE COMMERCIAL RATES OVER 20 PERCENT!!! THAT is a pretty sweet deal.

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Posted by to the voice editor
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

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Posted by BD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Rates haven't been set by a competitive process in over 80 years (!), two other interested vendors made themselves known to the city council, and some customers will face up to a 20% rate hike next year. It sure seems short-sighted not to have hired the necessary help to take this out to a competitive bid.

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Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I agree with BD. Competitive bidding is the best way to get the best contract. Yes, the in-house cost of processing a competitive acquisition is higher and more time-consuming but worth it to ensure the best contract--even if the best contract winds up costing as much as the proposed Recology contract and even if it is, in fact, with Recology.

It's just too risky to assume this sole-source contract is the best deal for Mountain View.

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Posted by JLS
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Mission Trails has done an exceptional job in Los Altos and couldn't even be heard in Mountain View. Sounds like political payoff. Something stinks and it isn't just the garbage!

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Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm

This all stinks to high H E Double Hockey Sticks.

I have a 600 square foot business that generates a LOT of recyclables in the form of packing materials, but very little actual garbage. Yet, I am FORCED by city policy to pay for a 33 gallon garbage can that I rarely fill. As a "commercial" account I am not eligible for the 16 gallon mini can. I have become disillusioned in regards to recycling since I can simply stuff my 33 gallon can with everything every week. Besides, even though I have been in business for nearly a year, I still haven't been able to get them to consistently pick up my recycling cans.

Don't even get me started on my $3 worth of water I pay for, with an associated $14 "meter charge" and $40 for sewer when the only thing going down my drain is the $3 worth of water......

Guess why I ran for city council?

Yet you voted for the status quo.......

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm

What a crock. We get what we deserve though. We need to vote these jokers off the council.

I'm not even sure why the city is in the garbage/recycling business. I've lived in placed where it's all private. You pick the company and they come get your garbage. Or you could take it to the dump yourself if you were really cheap.

No city in the middle getting their cut.

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Posted by On the other hand
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2012 at 8:50 am

Recology has done a good job on the residential side. OK, maybe their trucks do not get the can exactly where you put it out.

I would love to see a service where we can put out food waste as well for composting. This is a service that Redwood City has now.

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Posted by Oh please!
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 21, 2012 at 8:52 am

Let us be realistic. If the City Council voted to go to bid, you would all be complaining. I could hear it now...

"Recology has done a great job. Why would the Council pay that much to find a new company?"

"It is going to cost tons of money to change. This Council needs to remember our economy and stop spending like there is no budget"

Sound familiar to anyone?

Like this comment
Posted by Ann Schneider
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

Dear Cpuncil:

Very disappointed in all of you. You promised to finally go out to bid for what is the largest contract the City lets. And the system you approved is behind the times, the only good thing is if it is true that you aren't forcing single stream on us. (Mixing paper with cans/bottles contaminates paper and reduces markets for paper.) Your worse action was continuing bi-weekly collection of greenwaste when that is the service (with food) that should be weekly then allowing dry garbage to move to a bi-weekly collection.

All in all, all of you get an 'F' for this along with not living up to the promise to go out for competitive bid.

Shame on you.

Like this comment
Posted by Antonio
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

Recology large trucks and careless drivers inflicts considerable damage to private properties. They take short cuts driving their heavy trucks over curbs causing the concrete to crumble they leak oil and other substances and cause the asphalt to deteriorate rapidly on private roads.
Is the city going to compensate property owners for the damages caused by their contractor?

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Posted by Frank
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

Wow, City Council totally boffed this one in my opinion! Does this now set precedent for other companies to enter into no-bid contracts because they've DONE the job for so long? Hmm? If I were up for renegotiation, I would cite the Recology deal.

And didn't we just get notification that garbage and sewer rates are increasing July 1st?


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Posted by Ann
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Historically garbage companies only served the town they were in. Of course over the years and especially over the last 2 decades there has been immense consolidation but even prior to that since historic garbage companies had one client, cities had to give the company 5, yes five, year notice that they were going to go out to bid for the garbage (and later in the late 1980s and 1990s for recycling and yardwaste). After years of pushing Mtn. View to go out to bid (think when Rosemary Stasek was on councill) we, the environmental community, finally convinced the city to tell Foothill Disposal (now renamed Recology)that the city was going to go out to bid. Now the City is reversing that decision.

Who knows what services we could get if the city allowed competition to allow increased services and any possible savings in collection or processing.

Like this comment
Posted by Recology driver
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hey Antonio, you forgot to add that we run red lights, force bicyclists into bushes, eat our lunches while we text as we drive our trucks down your street and toss the wrappers out the window. What a drama queen! You've personally observed every single Recology driver, I assume. We drivers take pride in our work and strive to keep our customers happy as we are the ones that come face to face with many of you during our routes. Keeping a good driver/customer relationship makes our encounters with you, the public stress free and makes resolving any conflicts much easier. If you're any older than, say 15, you should know better than to throw out such broad generalizations like that. Don't forget, your streets also have UPS, FedEx, flower delivery, U.S. Postal among many other delivery vehicle that can inadvertently run over a curb or two from time to time.

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Posted by DuJuan
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm

While I don't have a personal problem with Recology like Antonio (get him Recology Driver, lol), I agree with other respondents that a no-bid contract is not conducive to 'good government.' The City Council did not do "us" any favors by not bidding out this contract.

I don't know much about contracts, but does anyone know what type of bidding procedure is used? Is it lowest bidder, ALWAYS? Or best contract put forth? Do the companies bid anonymously? Why couldn't Recology "win" the bid straight up?

The Voice should investigate this for the citizens.

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 26, 2012 at 12:42 am


Generally governments are pressured to take the lowest bid but there is room to compare services offered and price. A bidder might cost more but provide a better range of services and be chosen. Other things that are or should be considered include the record of the bidding companies, i.e., safety record, missed pickups and other service delivery records, labor issues, and on and on. Zero waste services are very much contract driven and the bid specs themselves are quite detailed. I think it is the fact that it is a complicated and time consuming process that leads small cities like Mtn. View, and heck San Franicsco to continue to stay with sole sourcing services.

It takes pressure from the public to tell elected officials that competition is best for all of us.

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

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