A major San Fernando property owner, who rents out single-family homes to tenants, is considering legal action against the City of San Fernando after being informed that liens could be applied to his properties that are delinquent in paying trash pickup fees.
Stephen Fleschler claims the proposed action by the City Council is “a violation of due process,” and that he is trapped between the tenants who haven’t paid the fees, the City of San Fernando and the trash company that has refused to give him information because he is not the person listed on the bill.
Fleschler — who said he owns about a 15-18 single family properties in San Fernando and more than 60 properties in the Northeast Valley — said so far two of his tenants told him they never knew about the outstanding garbage fees. One has a bill for $150, the other for $650.
San Fernando Deputy City Manager Chris Marcarello said that out of 649 accounts that were behind, 228 had already come in to the City to pay their outstanding bills or reach an agreement for a payment plan.
The City took action after being informed by Republic that hundreds of residents have not paid their bills
According to a legal notice filed by City officials, outstanding fees must be paid to the Consolidated Collection Service by July 7. If not, according Marcarello, then said delinquent fees could be charged to the property owners.
A public hearing on the outstanding fees and who must pay them is scheduled on July 18. After the hearing, Marcarello said, a final listing of outstanding fees and liens will be sent to the county Assessor’s office to have said outstanding fees applied to property taxes.
“I was not given any notices,” Fleschler adamantly said, adding his business in the City goes back to 1964. “I thought the tenants would be responsible for the trash fees and the tenants said they didn’t get a bill. I can’t be only one with this problem.”
Fleschler said he would partake in a class-action suit against the City, but added it would have to be with other single-family property owners, not apartment owners.
The conflict stems from trash fees that have gone unpaid for months and, in some instances, years.
“The City was approached by Republic Services (the trash collector company) at the beginning of the year and they told us that nearly 20 percent of residential accounts were delinquent for more than 90 days,” Marcarello said.
The monthly charge for trash pick up in the City of San Fernando is $15.10 a month, which means some accounts have been delinquent for months. Residents receive a separate bill for this payment, much like gas or electricity.
The City Council discussed the issue in both in February and April before deciding to publicize the addresses of those with unpaid trash fees.
At its June 6 meeting, a report given to the council stated, “The City’s ability to place delinquent sums on the tax roll is conditioned upon the local solid waste hauler having made multiple attempts to collect the invoice on their own by sending notice to the customer and later to both the customer and the owner of the property served by the solid waste account (in those instances where the customer and the property owner are different).”
At the June 6 meeting, the council passed resolution of its intent to place liens on real property for non-payment of residential solid waste collection services billings and setting the date for the public hearing on July 18 for comment.
“The council wanted to proved adequate time for account holders to come up to date with the billing amounts,“ Marcarello said. “They need to tell their tenants to get this done.”
A listing of properties with unpaid fees from was published June 23 edition of the (italics) San Fernando Sun/El Sol (italics end). Another second listing is published in this week’s edition.
Fleschler said the contract with his tenants stipulates they are responsible for any utilities, including trash, but he says his tenants were unaware of these outstanding bills.
“They have to give you notice of due process. Late notices have to go to the owners of property, you can’t say six months later ‘pay it now,’” said Fleschler, who just received the notice for payment. In the past they went to his tenants.
“The option is to evict my tenants and keep the security deposit,” he adds. “There’s something incompetent here. They didn’t bill me until June. I want to know in advance if I’m going to be charged. You can’t wait three or four years.”
Marcarello said the notices for undue payment went out in early June and people have nearly two months to pay or reach a payment schedule with the City.
But he emphasized there are no plans to discontinue trash pick up.
“Trash is a safety and health issue. Trash needs to be picked up,” Marcarello said.
Republic Services has been the trash collector for the past two years and apparently, collecting trash fees has been a problem for some time.
“We were approached because it was becoming a problem, something they were just beginning to realize. It gets to a point that it becomes difficult for them to remain competitive (if people don’t pay trash fees),” Marcarello said, adding that the City did not intend to embarrass anyone by publishing defaulter addresses on the paper.