Activists Rally in Support of L.A.'s Troubled Trash Hauling Program

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Dozens of activists held a rally at Los Angeles City Hall today in support of the troubled RecycLA trash hauling program that some members of the City Council have been bashing for months.

Members of the Don't Waste LA Coalition, which consists of community, environmental, labor and faith-based organizations, called on the council to fix the problems with the program but not abandon it.

``I'm really calling on the city leadership to stand by this program, to stand by the values of Los Angeles to ensure that this program's challenges are addressed and we move forward to create a cleaner community for all of us,'' said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

The program has been rife with problems since it started, with customers reporting skyrocketing costs and terrible service while some City Council members who initially championed the program have become increasingly critical of it.

The franchise waste hauling system was approved by the City Council in late 2016 and became operational July 1, 2017, with the goal of expanding recycling opportunities to thousands of businesses and apartment buildings while also cutting down on pollution by reducing the number of trucks on the street and requiring service providers to transition to low-emission trucks.

The program has seven companies handle an estimated $3.5 billion in commercial waste hauling in Los Angeles under RecycLA. Each company is assigned as the sole trash hauler for commercial sites and multi-family complexes in one or more of the city's 11 zones.

Problems in the RecycLA system started shortly after it became active, including some customers reporting missed service calls and bills that doubled, tripled or quadrupled. While no council members have openly said the program should be scrapped, some have been highly critical of the trash hauling companies.

At a news conference last month, Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said he did not think that contracts needed to be canceled or legal action needed to be taken yet, but suggested it could soon be an option.

``I am very open to having everything on the table to look at this contract. We're not there yet, but we wanted to make a statement today that this must be fixed,'' O'Farrell said.

He also said that ``I was so stupefied that it was such a disastrous rollout. I was given assurances, I can't tell you how many times I had meetings in my office, requesting assurances that this would be successful.''

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