Has the City of Manteca shot itself in the proverbial foot when it comes to solid waste cost recovery?
People generally have accepted the first garbage rate increase in 12 years that went into effect this month and are due by April 15.
But judging by the early returns on charges that go beyond weekly collection, there will be a lot of trash talk about the city making what are being perceived as some bonehead moves.
Typical are comments by J. Brenner and Stephen Breacain who believe the Manteca City Council unwittingly adopted a rate structure that will encourage residential customers to be irresponsible.
Brenner’s point centers on the new fee for a second green cart for yard waste. Until a month ago there was no charge at all. The idea was to make sure that people didn’t use spare space in their brown garbage cart to dump excess yard waste that is more costly to bury than compost.
“We have lived in our home now for four years,” Brenner explained. “The plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers have grown. We have a fairly large lot with a garden. With green carts picked up only every other week, we generate green waste that cannot be accommodated in one cart.
“I called garbage collection to get a second green container and was told there is now a one-time $115 charge for the container. I know many of my neighbors have a second container they received at no charge, so this must be a new policy. I can only assume that the city no longer wants to encourage recycling and garbage sorting, as I was told it was OK to put the green waste in the brown cart.
“Last week I put out my brown cart, which usually has only two or three small bags of garbage, now it is full of green waste because my green cart is full. This will increase the tipping fees at the landfill because the garbage truck will now contain a lot of green waste (that also means more trips to the transfer station as trucks will be able to serve fewer homes in one load).
“This seems like a very short sighted solution and discourages residents from recycling. When I moved to Manteca I was happy to see the commitment to recycling and was glad to do my part. Now I am disappointed to see the city philosophy has changed for the worse.”
Breacain’s point that the city may be unwittingly encouraging illegal dumping that the city will then have to spend money cleaning up was outlined in a recent letter.
“I’m planning on doing some pruning and yard clean-up now that the weather is improving, and had stopped off this afternoon at the Solid Waste Division to schedule the delivery of a 6-yard residential container. I had rented the same size dumpster a few months ago for about $60. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the price had gone up to $258.51! In fact, the new fees for all 3 to 6 yard bins have increased by around $200.
“When I asked why the rental fee had increased by over 400%, I was told that ‘The fee hasn’t been raised in the last 12 years’. I didn’t find that answer very satisfying. And what I find really irritating, besides the outrageous price increase, is the amount itself, $258.51 cents, as if whomever arrived at this number sat down and carefully calculated the cost to the City down to nearest penny, rather than just pulling a number out of a hat which is more likely the approach that was taken. This is ridiculous.
“But they didn’t stop there. Another newly added inconvenience is that now, rather than being able to add this fee to your monthly bill from the City, you now have to pay it up front. I used to consider the Solid Waste Division one of the real gems among Manteca’s public works departments, but unfortunately that changed today.
“I wrote to the Mayor and the City Council members asking them to please review this outrageous fee increase, and to have the Solid Waste Division come up with a more reasonable fee schedule. One idea that comes to mind is to charge a different rate for green waste than for other materials since it can be recycled rather than added to our landfills. But if the City’s intent is to encourage and guarantee illegal dumping around town and along our country roads, then I believe that the Solid Waste Division has stumbled upon a great new way to do just that.”
plans to file
City of Manteca
If you want to shut down a public discussion of an issue and you’re a builder, just threaten to sue the city.
That’s what the legal representative for DeNova Homes essentially did Tuesday during the public comments portion of the Manteca City Council meeting when they informed the council they intended to file a claim for damages.
The dispute centers around the city’s refusal to issue occupancy permits for completed homes at the new McKenzie Grove neighborhood being built in the triangle formed by Airport Way, Louise Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks until specific subdivision improvements are made.
The firm told the buyers of the homes they could move in on the assumption they would get occupancy permits instead of waiting for them to the issued. The buyers gave notice to landlords that they were moving and started packing only to find out they weren’t going anywhere yet.
Company representatives want a council member to put the issue on the April 4 agenda so DeNova can make a pitch to have elected leaders direct staff to issue occupancy permits. Given how DeNova said they are going to submit a claim that is typically a precursor to a lawsuit it is unlikely to be on the April 4 agenda — at least in open session.
Frustrated home buyers may be the least of DeNova Homes’ problem when it comes to McKenzie Grove. The project’s subdivision map expires this week.