Los Angeles franchise complaints down 68%
- Complaints filed to the city of Los Angeles over missed refuse collection dropped 68% between January and February, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN) said it received 5,559 complaints about missed collections under the RecycLA franchise program in January and 1,757 in February.
- Councilman Mike Bonin who, according to the Times, called the RecycLA program "a hot mess," said he was encouraged by the reduction in complaints but the city needs to address other issues, like billing changes. Councilman Mitchell Englander has called for the city to end the franchise program but has not been joined by any other councilors.
- The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), which campaigned for the program, attributed the drop in complaints to the end of the franchise transition period, which empowered the city to issue fees and fines to haulers who were falling short of their contractual obligations. Waste Management and Don't Waste LA recently lead a rally in support of the program outside city hall.
Complaints of missed collections peaked in December last year, leading to hours of public testimony and calls for repeal. One factor in the high number of missed collections could be that each of the seven haulers licensed to operate under the franchise program reported having to serve more customers than they initially anticipated. Another is the number of complaints, many from the same sources, is still much smaller than the overall number of accounts being serviced.
1,700 complaints in February is down to levels not seen since before the program's initial month. And while there is a ballot initiative to put the repeal of RecyLA up for a public vote, the sponsoring organization's website says the group so far has just 600 signatures of 65,000 needed by April 1.
The show of strength by LAANE and other supportive groups — including service providers such as Waste Management — during this week's rally is a sign that any reversal could be hard-fought.
RecyLA, as the largest transition ever undertaken from an open market to a franchised system, has been closely watched by the industry. As other large cities — including New York — grapple with their own decisions over franchising, how the situation continues to unfold in LA will almost certainly be a factor for key stakeholders.
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