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Trash Pickup Fight Lands in Court

2018 Editions June News Updates

Universal Waste Systems (UWS), the designated garbage collector for businesses and apartment buildings in Northeast Los Angeles, has been named in a new lawsuit to overturn the trash-collection system imposed by the City of L.A last July. 

Four other trash haulers, each of which has a city contract to collect garbage in other parts of L.A., were also named.

The lawsuit, filed in May as a class action on behalf of several businesses and apartment complexes, is being spearheaded by the Apartment Owners Association of California. 

The fight boils down to this: The apartment owners and other plaintiffs want to go back to the old way, in which businesses could choose among several competing trash haulers for service. They say the new system is too costly, inconvenient and unfair. The city wants to keep the new system, in which there is one hauler under contract to the city for each given geographic area. City officials have said the new system is needed to meet mandates and standards for safety and environmental protection. 

The class-action lawsuit claims that the trash haulers and the L.A. Board of Sanitation held “secret negotiations” that ultimately resulted in an inflated rate structure for trash pick up under the new system. The lawsuit also claims that the trash haulers have told customers they must charge the new rates when, in fact, those rates are the maximum they can charge. 

A spokesperson for UWS said the company does not comment on pending litigation. 

The class action lawsuit is the second one filed by California’s Apartment Owners Assocation against the new trash collection system. The first, filed against the City of Los Angeles and scheduled for an initial hearing in July, claims that the new system is, effectively, an impermissible tax. 

In related news, a voter initiative to overturn the new trash system failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. And while some city councilmembers said last February that the city should look into ending the new system, no hearing has been scheduled to follow up on that idea.

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