San Diego’s Measure B ballot initiative, which repeals fee-free trash pickup for single-family homes, appears likely to be approved. The decision split voters in what’s been a nearly neck-and-neck ballot count since Election Day.
San Diego’s disparity in how it charges for pickup services dates back to a 1919 “people’s ordinance,” which protects single-family homeowners from paying for city trash collection service. Apartments and condos, on the other hand, currently must pay for service from private haulers.
According to an update Friday from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, votes for Measure B (201,760) were leading votes against it (198,446) 50.41% to 49.59%. The registrar’s website said 11,000 ballots are still outstanding; its next and final update will be Dec. 8, upon certification of the election.
The ballot measure asked voters to approve amending the San Diego Municipal Code so that all city residents receive comparable waste and recycling services, and that the city can “recover its cost” of providing these services to eligible residential properties. The measure’s approval wouldn’t automatically impose fees on customers who historically had not paid any, but it would allow the council to enact a fee in the future.
Proponents said that waste collection has changed significantly since more than a century ago, when the law was established, and the change would level an archaic disparity while allowing the city to spend money on other waste needs or general fund purposes. Critics said that the cost implications of the change were presented in a misleading way to voters and that the change would come at a time when consumers have already been hit with rising costs.
According to a fiscal impact statement, as much as $79.2 million in costs in the adopted FY 2023 budget could be offset if such a fee were implemented. Those costs could help San Diego pay for its implementation of SB 1383, California’s sweeping organics collection and recycling law. The San Diego Environmental Services Department plans to spend $17.4 million this fiscal year on SB 1383-related costs, Voice of San Diego reported.