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(Reason Magazine)   Los Angeles decides that the cable company monopoly model would be a great way to handle basic sanitation services. It works out exactly as you would expect   ( reason.com) divider line
    More: Stupid, Apartment, trash, trash companies, Los Angeles, Councillor, City, The Los Angeles Times, los angeles city  
•       •       •

2082 clicks; posted to Business » on 07 Feb 2018 at 3:50 PM (23 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2018-02-07 03:11:49 PM  
While they're much smaller than Los Angeles, some towns/cities in Lane County, Oregon have only one garbage pickup/recycle company to do business with.

In Springfield it's Sanipac, but nearby Eugene has Sanipac, Lane Apex & Royal Refuse.
 
2018-02-07 03:13:02 PM  
They fixed the cable? No, wait...
 
2018-02-07 03:39:30 PM  
So they'll raise your rates and at the same time offer reduced services?
 
2018-02-07 03:42:20 PM  
Surprisingly, I don't disagree with Reason, but I have a much different solution and I'm sure Reason won't like it.

A lot of what will make this program a success are public policy goals. Cleaner air, increased waste diversion, and living wages. These are all good things, but they no doubt come with a cost. Where LA (and likely Reason) are going wrong, is that they turned this over to private providers, who of course, need to tack on a profit for themselves.

The article mentions that this is only for businesses and apartment buildings, which are no doubt a huge chunk of trash pickup, but it sounds to me like there's a publicly-run residential program running alongside (maybe I'm wrong).

If the City of LA was serious about realizing its stated policy goals, they'd be better off running the business and multi-family program themselves so they avoid the profit margin that the private providers will demand.

Having said that, it certainly sounds like these contracts were not written with adequate controls in place to prevent some of these negative consequences from happening. So that may be an avenue for reform.

The final thing I would add is that the target of 90% diversion by 2025 sounds INCREDIBLY optimistic. I don't know what LA's diversion rate is now, but my own city had a goal of 80% by 2020 in place for over a decade and has now conceded that they will not meet it.
 
2018-02-07 03:45:52 PM  
We have one company do our trash, recycling and green bins. They don't suck and the people that pick up the trash have taken some pretty gnarly things from my house. I await them with a few pints of rum around the holidays as thanks.
 
2018-02-07 04:00:37 PM  
Late twentieth century sanitation companies seen snickering in a godfatherly manner on hearing the news.
 
2018-02-07 04:01:53 PM  
The cable company monopoly model isn't even a good model for handling cable companies.

There's a reason why comcast et al. are known for having the worst customer service in America.  They have the same reputation that Ma Bell did before the big AT&T breakup. . ."We don't care, we don't have to.  We're the Phone Company"
 
2018-02-07 04:11:20 PM  
Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.
 
2018-02-07 04:31:23 PM  
Why can't we follow Elon Musk's example and shoot our trash into space?
 
2018-02-07 04:31:31 PM  
If Reason had their way, there would be plenty of market competition this year, and then five years from now there would be ONE remaining company doing business in all 11 districts after the dominant market player bought out all the others. Then everyone would have the crappy services they currently have due to monopolistic rents, but none of the social concessions would have been extracted.
 
2018-02-07 04:35:18 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.


There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.
 
2018-02-07 04:37:25 PM  
One of the real perks when I moved to the new place was that the city ran trash and recycling. They take just about everything but CRTs. I've put out mattresses, Christmas trees, and they'll even take branches if they're cut and bundled and it's just part of my taxes.

It's pretty awesome and it makes sure that the neighborhood is clean and people don't dump crap over hills. I can't imagine that a private company would provide better service.
 
2018-02-07 04:37:49 PM  
I'm sure Reason has a back-up article ready:

"Government inefficiency at its worst: Los Angeles contracts out sanitation to multiple companies, all with different contracts!"
 
2018-02-07 04:38:28 PM  

Dimensio: They fixed the cable? No, wait...


He picked up the trash?
 
2018-02-07 04:46:07 PM  

Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.


There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?
 
2018-02-07 04:49:18 PM  
The speed the poop comes out from their brownband is amazing.
 
2018-02-07 04:56:53 PM  

Rev.K: Surprisingly, I don't disagree with Reason, but I have a much different solution and I'm sure Reason won't like it.

A lot of what will make this program a success are public policy goals. Cleaner air, increased waste diversion, and living wages. These are all good things, but they no doubt come with a cost. Where LA (and likely Reason) are going wrong, is that they turned this over to private providers, who of course, need to tack on a profit for themselves.

The article mentions that this is only for businesses and apartment buildings, which are no doubt a huge chunk of trash pickup, but it sounds to me like there's a publicly-run residential program running alongside (maybe I'm wrong).

If the City of LA was serious about realizing its stated policy goals, they'd be better off running the business and multi-family program themselves so they avoid the profit margin that the private providers will demand.

Having said that, it certainly sounds like these contracts were not written with adequate controls in place to prevent some of these negative consequences from happening. So that may be an avenue for reform.

The final thing I would add is that the target of 90% diversion by 2025 sounds INCREDIBLY optimistic. I don't know what LA's diversion rate is now, but my own city had a goal of 80% by 2020 in place for over a decade and has now conceded that they will not meet it.


I much prefer a government-owned monopoly to a privately-owned monopoly.  However, actual competition is usually better than either.
 
2018-02-07 04:59:01 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?


Also note that there are two types of trash services in question here-one comes by and picks up trash cans, another only empties dumpsters for apartment buildings and commercial sites.  It is very uncommon for there to be competition in the first.  Competition in the second is more common.  Sounds like LA gave monopolies out under both types.
 
2018-02-07 05:01:09 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.


I am Groot
img.fark.netView Full Size


I don't think my city garbage trucks are used to pick up apartment building(according to size) trash.
 
2018-02-07 05:03:06 PM  
City of St. Petersburg is my sanitation company.  Twice weekly trash pickup and recycling pick up every other Tuesday.  Runs like clockwork.
 
2018-02-07 05:12:14 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?


That's the way it works at my house. I pay Waste Management directly. I know of two other services that my neighbors use and I could switch to either of them if I wanted to.
 
2018-02-07 05:16:52 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?


Yup, you hire the company and pay them directly.  You can choose the level of service (weekly, bi-weekly, multiple dumpers, that kind of thing) too.  They pick up the recycling too.  It means you'll see trash by the street on different days depending on who is picking up too.

Nearby the City of Rochester had municipal trash service.  They provide the rollaway dumpers handle the entire service.
 
2018-02-07 05:23:27 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?


Google shows me that there are at least 5 different companies offering service in my town ranging from national companies (Waste Management) to locals (Al's Maintenance).
 
2018-02-07 05:24:31 PM  

Lorenzo Von Matterhorn: Why can't we follow Elon Musk's example and shoot our trash into space?


We all know how it will end up:

img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2018-02-07 05:31:44 PM  

Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?

Yup, you hire the company and pay them directly.  You can choose the level of service (weekly, bi-weekly, multiple dumpers, that kind of thing) too.  They pick up the recycling too.  It means you'll see trash by the street on different days depending on who is picking up too.

Nearby the City of Rochester had municipal trash service.  They provide the rollaway dumpers handle the entire service.


Huh, I've never encountered that setup, strange.  Anywhere I've lived it's been run as a government service.  They tell you when your pickup day is and you just pay for it as part of your taxes, no choice in the matter, but no hassle dealing with it either.
 
2018-02-07 05:35:52 PM  
"There is an entire field of study, called "economics," that could have shown O'Farrell that this was going to happen."

encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.comView Full Size
 
2018-02-07 05:39:25 PM  
frinkiac.comView Full Size
 
2018-02-07 05:40:33 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?

Yup, you hire the company and pay them directly.  You can choose the level of service (weekly, bi-weekly, multiple dumpers, that kind of thing) too.  They pick up the recycling too.  It means you'll see trash by the street on different days depending on who is picking up too.

Nearby the City of Rochester had municipal trash service.  They provide the rollaway dumpers handle the entire service.

Huh, I've never encountered that setup, strange.  Anywhere I've lived it's been run as a government service.  They tell you when your pickup day is and you just pay for it as part of your taxes, no choice in the matter, but no hassle dealing with it either.


I've never heard of it either. I've only ever known of government provided garbage collection.
 
2018-02-07 06:09:28 PM  
Reason.com would've loved it if it had been a duopoly instead.

/omg private industry competing!!!1
 
2018-02-07 06:15:41 PM  
I'm in an area with private trash service too.  The problem is that they keep consolidating, though there were about 6 companies that served the neighborhood, so it seemed like we always had a trash truck between regular pickups and recycling.  I think we are at 3 now.

Alternatively we can pay $7/load up to 300 or 400 pounds and take our own trash to the ridiculously nice transfer station.
 
2018-02-07 06:40:34 PM  
I'm in an unincorporated  area around Denver and have several options of companies to service.  The two big boys are Waste Management and Republic (I use the latter because I like Friday as my trash day) who will serve the entire Denver area.  There are then a handful of other smaller companies that will service my general area and not others which is a pattern that repeats across the metro area.  What that means for me is that in a given 5 day work week, someone is picking up trash Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on my street.  I do believe this makes our raccoon, skunk and feral cat issues worse.  But you can get service relatively cheap.

Having said that, I like having a choice.  Several cities have trash service as part of the city services, but none of them run their own landfills so they contracted with one company and they dictate what day your pickup is and costs are generally higher.  Similarly most HOA neighborhoods dictate they only allow trash trucks on their streets one day a week and have contracted a specific company.  It does not seem like there's a volume discount for either HOA or city level contracted sanitation.  I don't think L.A.'s issue is particularly special.
 
M-G
2018-02-07 06:41:45 PM  
When the county set up single-vendor trash districts, they created a mechanism where the trash companies placed their bids on the contract by offering the lowest customer price on the mandated services.

Subdivisions could opt out of the program and continue to either contract as a subdivision with a trash service, or let every resident handle their own.  My parents' subdivision decided to opt out.  So there are trash trucks rumbling down their street nearly every day, and they're paying more than I am, even with their 'senior discount.'

And there are still right-wingers in the county who regularly rail against this perceived government overreach....
 
2018-02-07 06:53:38 PM  

Cubicle Jockey: If Reason had their way, there would be plenty of market competition this year, and then five years from now there would be ONE remaining company doing business in all 11 districts after the dominant market player bought out all the others. Then everyone would have the crappy services they currently have due to monopolistic rents, but none of the social concessions would have been extracted.


Yeah, but that would be OK because it would be owned by the same Koch network as Reason.
 
2018-02-07 06:55:56 PM  
Yup. My trash bill doubled.  Same shiatty service, same people stealing trash cans everywhere instead of paying for an extra bin, and same company not giving a gd damn about it.  Hope something comes out of this.
 
2018-02-07 07:00:16 PM  
Roads, military, trash collection.  That is what government should do, especially in the age of recycling.

My county leased the trash collection to a private company a couple years ago.  It used to be we could recycle anything that had a number and that was properly sorted.  Then they went to just put all the recycling in one bin and they sorted it.  It was wonderful.  Now with the private company, only items they can make a profit from are "recycle able" or hazardous waste that is mandated by the state.  Everything else is trash.  Now we have to trash pizza cartons instead of recylce.  Also all styrofoam.  And any paper that isn't fresh from the manufacturer.
 
2018-02-07 07:07:28 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Snuffybud: TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.

There are at least 3 different trash services in my town.

There are a few different ones in the county, but you don't get to pick the one that services you, it's based on where you live, each one takes certain 'zones'.

Do you have the choice of which trash service you use?  How does that work, do yo pay the trash service for pickup directly?


Up here theres one choice for trash pickup, and it's paid for by property taxes...
 
2018-02-07 07:11:13 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.


Relatively rare, but my hometown (Kansas, pop ~ 14k) was totally laissez-faire about trash haulers.  Small town manages to have at least seven choices (all independent, afaik).  All of which go up and down whatever streets, some more than once a week, so it seems like they're everywhere.  Rates pretty cheap (competition at work), but the town still has a big problem with rural dumping (partially poverty... partially a lot of shiatbags).

One thing I found interesting was that there was some experimentation in strategy.  Some haulers had immaculate rigs, branded cans, etc.  And some were total rusted-out wrecks driven by meth-heads.  Comparable prices.
 
2018-02-07 07:16:26 PM  
how embarrassing must it be as a parent, when people ask you what your child does for work, to have to admit they work for 'reason' magazine? i think i'd lie and claim they were a garbage collector, which is at least a useful profession that one can take pride in
 
2018-02-07 07:17:19 PM  
My city has Waste Management. Trash on Thursday, recycling on Monday in my neighborhood. I pay a fee as part of my water bill. It's pretty reasonable.

The only municipal pickup is the monthly bulk pickup, for stuff that doesn't fit in the can. You call the city to get on the schedule, and they tell you it'll be picked up at some point during the week. So, you put your big trash or brush by the curb, and it waits there. Finally, on Saturday morning, a flatbed truck and a pickup pull up, and a gang of kids who are doing community service for weed jump out, pick up the trash, and roll on.

I can't complain.
 
2018-02-07 07:32:08 PM  
I've lived all over Los Angeles County (and Orange and Riverside) and never stayed in a place that had municipal trash service.  LA was way behind the times, and the prices they charged were probably well below market rates. $40/quarter is about the norm across the LA metro area for SFR service
 
2018-02-07 07:40:17 PM  

tricycleracer: City of St. Petersburg is my sanitation company.  Twice weekly trash pickup and recycling pick up every other Tuesday.  Runs like clockwork.


Do they charge extra to haul your Thetans away, or is that just Clearwater?
 
2018-02-07 08:01:41 PM  
I gotta get a job in the government. The quickest way to get rich in this country seems to be graft.
 
2018-02-07 08:02:13 PM  

Cubicle Jockey: If Reason had their way, there would be plenty of market competition this year, and then five years from now there would be ONE remaining company doing business in all 11 districts after the dominant market player bought out all the others. Then everyone would have the crappy services they currently have due to monopolistic rents, but none of the social concessions would have been extracted.


I wonder what was preventing that for all the decades before this happened.  It's almost as if competition was working to reduce cost and increase quality exactly as it is supposed to.
 
2018-02-07 09:18:51 PM  

AmbassadorBooze: Now we have to trash pizza cartons instead of recylce.


Pizza boxes are compost, you monster.

We have a county-contracted monopoly here. One can per house, once a week mandatory minimum.We tried to buy a small garbage truck for a 172 home vacation gome complex we manage and haul it ourselves. No dice. Their annual bill, without the 200yds of cleanup after the snow melts in the spring, is $64k
 
2018-02-07 09:38:57 PM  
I used to be a garbageman in Spokane. There, trash pickup is a city department. Every house in the city got picked up once a week. We also picked up commercial trash and provided service to people needing dumpsters for remodeling and such. It was one of the few city departments that made money, not just spend it.
The citizens liked it because if they called about a problem, they knew they would get a response from the city and the problem would get rectified.
 
2018-02-07 09:49:48 PM  
I actually drove a trash truck for a bit in a previous life.  This was in a city with three different companies competing for residential pickup.

I was always struck by how crazy-inefficient the whole setup was.  For much of the city (outside of HOAs that contracted with one company only) there'd be three trucks all covering exactly the same routes.  That could mean up to six trucks or more doing down residential streets over the course of a week every week (we had separate trucks for trash, recycling and grass clippings).

Now who do you suppose ended up paying for all this market-based inefficiency?  Employees mostly; unlike in cities where collectors are municipal employees, our helpers started out at $12.00 an hour, and I guarantee that no matter what your job is, you don't work harder than they do tossing cans all day.  Not to mention that it's one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

Seems to me that the problem here is the model being used.  Privatization doesn't bring in market efficiencies.  It's usually nothing more than an exercise in getting around government unions and providing industry cronies with a slush fund.  Far better for the city to run its own trash collection service, paid for with taxes for normal residential waste and special charges for anything out of the ordinary.
 
2018-02-07 10:02:07 PM  
Privatization has a few purposes:
* Steer contracts to cronies, political contributors, and their spouses
* Break up unions and/or scrub political opponents from civil service
* Limit who is allowed to use public services (esp. schools)
* Play financial shell games with pension funds
* Use franchise fees as a revenue stream
* Keep the local Tea Party bund quiet
* Introduce efficiencies in the delivery of public services NOPE
 
2018-02-07 10:40:06 PM  
That's weird that some of the posters here have noisy trucks clanging up and down their streets more than once a week. One poster wrote of Mon, Tue, Thu, and Fri pickups by different companies.

Eff all that. Come in one time, service the whole street, then GTFO for a while. I'll give you a dollar to stay away for a week. Shoot, come every two weeks. Even better.
 
2018-02-08 09:40:06 AM  

TuteTibiImperes: Are there places where you can pick your trash service?  I've never lived anywhere that I've had an option, at least not that I've been aware of.  I just put my trash outside and they pick it up, the county handles arranging whoever actually does it, and it's paid for as part of my property taxes each year.


I live in a town of less than 400 people, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, and I have a choice between two different companies (one is located in the small town 12 miles to the east, one is in the small town 12 miles to the west). It costs me about $18/month for curbside pickup (with one free month if I pay for the year in advance, which I do), and I've never had any complaints about the service.

baxterdog: Eff all that. Come in one time, service the whole street, then GTFO for a while. I'll give you a dollar to stay away for a week. Shoot, come every two weeks. Even better.


Every two weeks might work fine if you live alone with your cats and don't cook. Try preparing 10-15 meals per week for a family of five or more. It generates a surprising amount of garbage. Probably a lot more than you want lying around in front of your house or in your garage for two weeks at a time.
 
2018-02-08 11:59:10 AM  

baxterdog: That's weird that some of the posters here have noisy trucks clanging up and down their streets more than once a week. One poster wrote of Mon, Tue, Thu, and Fri pickups by different companies.

Eff all that. Come in one time, service the whole street, then GTFO for a while. I'll give you a dollar to stay away for a week. Shoot, come every two weeks. Even better.


I have them 4 days a week, but it's Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri.  As I said, though, no municipality here, we're unincorporated.  Trash is not a county-wide concern.  So in order for that to change, all neighbors would have to agree which basically would be like forming an HOA and believe me, nobody living here wants an HOA.
 
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