Picking Up the Trash Is the Easy Part. Paying for Trash Pickup Is Hard.

2018 December Editions Updates

For the most part, businesses and landlords in Northeast Los Angeles and the rest of the city have had no choice but to accept the higher costs and new procedures imposed by RecycLA, the city’s commercial trash-hauling system in effect since July 2017.

But at a recent meeting of the committee on Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice of the L.A. City Council, Councilmember Gil Cedillo raised the idea of exempting rent-stabilized apartment buildings from RecycLA.    

An exemption for rent-stabilized buildings would help their landlords who have been unable to raise rents enough to offset the higher costs of RecycLA. It would also be a relief for rent-stabilized tenants who fear that landlords will raise rents or cut services in the face of the higher trash-collection costs.

But exempting rent-stabilized buildings could hurt other businesses and apartment complexes in RecycLA, because with fewer buildings in the system, costs might rise for everyone else. Heather Johnson, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation (LASAN), told the Boulevard Sentinel that the rate structure of RecycLA would have to re-evaluated if rent-stabilized buildings were exempted, “with a potential impact” on non-rent stabilized entities. 

Another obstacle to exempting rent-stabilized buildings from RecycLA is that contracts would have to be revised between the city government and the RecycLA trash haulers. The city is clearly not eager to fiddle with those contracts: Last February, when complaints were still pouring in about RecycLA, the City Council made a motion to direct the City Attorney to look into what it would take to get out of RecycLA contracts. That motion has sat in committee ever since, with no action taken.

For now, Mr. Cedillo has asked LASAN to look into the feasibility of exempting rent-stabilized buildings and report back to the committee.

In the meantime, two lawsuits to overturn RecycLA, spearheaded by the Apartment Owners’ Association of California, continue to make their way through the courts. Since those lawsuits were filed – in Sept., 2017 and May, 2018 – service under RecycLA has improved, but the new system is still much costlier than the old system.

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