Council panel moves to block Sanders trash pickup cutoff

City News Service

A San Diego City Council committee voted Wednesday to have the City Attorney's Office draft measures aimed at overturning Mayor Jerry Sanders' decision to end free garbage pickup for about 14,000 homes on private roads.

The mayor wants to end trash pickup agreements with 102 homeowner associations and property managers that limit the city's liability for accidents on private roads. The move is part of Sanders' efforts to close a budget gap for the coming fiscal year projected at $56.7 million.

But the council's Natural Resource and Culture Committee voted to oppose the effort.

Canceling the trash pickup agreements would take effect July 1 and save the city more than $1.2 million in fiscal 2011-12, according to the mayor's office. Homeowner groups would then have to contract with private trash haulers.

Under the People's Ordinance, adopted in 1919 and amended in a public vote in 1986, residents confirmed their right to free garbage collection.

City Councilman Carl DeMaio, also a committee member, called the mayor's plan "a troubling proposal" and reminded those at the council meeting that the service is not free, but part of "core services" paid for with tax dollars.

Other committee members expressed concern that the mayor's action could trigger lawsuits, and that paying about $20 per month for trash pickup would hurt low-income residents and seniors.

Mike McDade of the San Diego County Disposal Association said the trash haulers in his group are competitive and would probably offer discounts people living on private roads just to land the contract.

Anne Krueger said residents in her Paradise Hills complex have been hurt by the poor economy and many are late on their homeowner's association fees every month.

"Dozens of homes in our association are in foreclosure," Krueger said.

San Diego is one of three cities in California — El Monte and Newport Beach are the others — that picks up trash without charge.

The same four council members agreed to hand up to the full City Council a recommendation to end trash pickup for about 4,600 businesses. That has been projected to save the city's general fund about $380,000.

   
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