Santa Monica Lookout
|City Raises Trash Fees, Eliminates Some Red Tape||
When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.
By Jonathan Friedman
May 16, 2014 -- Actions taken by the City Council on Tuesday will lead to higher trash service fees and fewer permit requirements for doing certain types of business in Santa Monica. Both measures were approved by unanimous votes.
Monthly trash service fees will go up July 1 by 3.85 percent for single-family homes, 1 percent for multi-family structures and 7.25 percent for commercial properties. The same percentage increase will happen again July 1 of 2015 and 2016. City staff says the price hikes are needed to keep pace with the rising costs for trash service.
“Since , annual inflationary increases in the solid waste rates have been outpaced by the rising costs in disposal fees, new organics processing fees, transportation fees, salaries and benefits increases, vehicle purchase price increases, vehicle maintenance and fuel increases, state-mandated recycling programs and the City’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan,” the staff report says.
It was noted during the council meeting that the fees will cover the collection of bulky items such as mattresses. Currently, customers must pay an additional charge to have the City pick up these items.
The City had received approximately 30 letters in protest of the fee hikes, a number Councilmember Kevin McKeown noted was not statistically significant when it is taken into account that 29,800 property owners and other customers were notified about the proposal.
The council heard from three people prior to voting, including one woman who questioned why multi-family homes were being hit with a higher percentage increase than single-family homes were.
“It doesn’t make sense to me because a multi-family building produces a lot more trash … single-family residents usually are much more prudent in sorting out their trash,” resident Crystal Anderson said.
McKeown took exception with what he called Anderson’s allegation of “we renters not caring about recycling,” and said he assured her “as a renter I care a great deal about recycling, and so do my neighbors.”
He also reiterated a statement from earlier this year by Kim Braun, Santa Monica's resource recovery and recycling manager, that multi-family homes had been carrying the cost burden for many years.
“Multi-family historically have been carrying more than their share of the burden, so what this adjustment does is make up for the historic overcharge and makes the relative charging of single-family, multi-family and commercial more equitable, where everybody is paying more of a fair share,” McKeown said.
In the other decision, the council eliminated various regulations and business permit requirements City staff determined do not serve a public benefit or could be addressed through other laws. This includes the requirement of Police Department permits for various business practices such as carnival merchandise sales, boxing and operating bath houses.
Regarding the elimination of the permit requirements, City staff wrote in its report, “Most of these permits do not provide the Police Department with any additional tools to prevent crime or conduct investigations; however, the requirement to obtain a police permit does place an administrative burden on the Police Department and a financial cost on businesses.”
These businesses will still have to obtain regular business licenses and pay business license taxes.
Also with the passage of the measure, the council removed old regulations from the municipal code requiring police involvement in taking inventory for auctions and liquidation sales as well as regulations on Bingo games and dance halls. The staff report says no issuance of a permit for Bingo or dance halls is included in the records dating back to 1996.
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