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Council Jacks Up Solid Waste Rates After 3-Year Freeze
By Jorge Casuso
June 14, 2023 -- With one public speaker and no discussion, the City Council on Tuesday approved solid waste rate hikes that will result in steady increases over the next five years.
The 6 to 0 vote came after only 155 owners of Santa Monica's 16,205 properties protested the 11 percent per year increases that will see bi-monthly bills for single-family homes rise from about $84 to $141, higher rates than those in some other cities.
The new rates -- which kick in August 1, then annually on July 1 through 2027 -- would see bills for a four-unit building go up from about $199 to $363, while those for a 10-unit building would rise from about $263 to $472.
Commercial buildings would also see 11 percent rate hikes over five years with cost depending on the cubic yard and frequency of collection.
The revenues collected pay for sanitation and enhanced sweeping, recycling and solid waste collection services, according to staff.
The Council also adopted a rate restructure for multi-family and commercial ratepayers "to eliminate the livable unit charges and water meter charges," City officials said.
The restructure also folds street sweeping services into one bundled rate "to ensure consistency among all customer types and align with solid waste industry standards."
The new rates for multi-family and commercial buildings are among the lowest in Los Angeles County because Santa Monica is only one of three LA County cities that runs its solid waste management operation rather than contracting it out, according to staff.
The increases come after a three-year rate freeze imposed during the coronavirus shutdown "to avoid imposing additional financial hardships on ratepayers," staff said. The last increase was approved by the Council in 2014.
The "critical and necessary" increases will "preserve the City’s ability to provide residents and businesses with reliable and cost effective municipal solid waste management services," staff said.
They also will support "increasing community needs and the Council’s Clean and Safe Santa Monica priority."
Enhanced services include providing organics recycling services to all customers to comply with State requirements, cleaning alleys more frequently and establishing a response team to focus on "hot spots" where bulky items are illegally dumped.
They also include "supporting volunteer-organized community cleanup activities, servicing the City’s increasing inventory of protected bicycle lanes (and) providing additional zero waste community outreach and education."
The enhanced services also further divert waste from landfills to help achieve the City Council’s goal of zero waste by 2030, staff said.
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