By Ali Guglielmi
Congratulations on Senate Bill 1383. I applaud your commitment to the planet and a greener California — or more like green lining your pockets.
In 2016, Gov. Brown got this bill passed with the goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2020. The only issue with this solid plan — they forgot to let the state of California know about it. 2020 came and went and who could have guessed that we did not reach that goal.
So without fail, strict measures were implemented to start January 2022 for all businesses that have 2 cubic yards of solid waste in their bins to begin composting.
The issue is not composting — Go Composting! The issue lays in Los Angeles and other cities that have franchise agreements for trash.
We all remember in 2017 when trash prices skyrocketed with missed pickups and weeks’ worth of trash piling up. Property owners had no option on finding the best prices, and these increases were given to the tenants. Many of these tenants are small businesses who were already dealing with permits and fees just to be in business in Los Angeles, as well as trying to survive pandemic closures.
Now after a year of shutdowns and these small businesses just trying to get back on their feet, landlords receive letters from Waste Management. “Your property has more than 2 cubic yards of trash so you must start collecting food waste.” The prices attached to this initiative? $109.58 for the smallest option for a green bin plus an additional $52.18 to unlock the trash enclosure monthly. Let’s not mention how often the keys are lost or missing so the trash collectors skip pickups and still charge the businesses.
As a landlord to these small business tenants, I am furious. So after getting this information from Waste Management, I read through the documents they sent us which included a page that stated “options”: (1) to go with their company, (2) to self-haul your organics, or (3) to go with a private company.
I did my research and found a great private company which deals only with composting at one-fourth the price of Waste Management. This would allow the most affordable composting option while still following the city’s regulations.
I emailed our representative at Waste Management to thank them for the option of using them as our organics hauler but to say we found a better option. Their response? Waste Management responded saying that their option is our only option. Their reasoning? The franchise agreements with the city gave them all the power and that this small private company is illegal for us to work with.
So after many unreturned phone calls, it is clear that the city of Los Angeles does not actually care about composting and the benefits for the planet. It is only about how much money they can acquire through these franchise agreements.
The number of phone calls to LA Sanitation where no one even knows about this law shows how unprepared for change and how wasteful this city actually is. Instead of giving us the opportunity to help our tenants save money as well as following the rules of this law to save the planet, the city gives the power to these trash companies that are starting to resemble the mafias control of “trash removal” in southern Italy.
Ali Guglielmi grew up in the San Fernando Valley and currently lives in Encino. She works for a small family-run property management company that deals with small businesses in Los Angeles.