Competition for S.F.'s garbage a good thing
It isn't often that we applaud the Board of Supervisors for a delay, but this is the exception. On Wednesday the Budget and Finance Committee delayed a decision on the 10-year, $112 million contract with the local trash company Recology for as long as two months.
To some, it might sound like dithering, but it is the right call.
The Budget and Finance Committee had several issues with the contract, but the one that really resonates is that the collection and hauling of trash has not gone out to a competitive bid since 1932. That's when San Francisco voters approved the Refuse Collection and Disposal Ordinance. It broke the contract into 97 permanent permits, which probably sounded like a good idea at the time.
But now Recology owns all those permits so it has a monopoly. Budget Analyst Harvey Rose set off a minor firestorm when he recommended that the issue should be taken back to the voters to restore a competitive bidding process.
That's a great idea. At present San Francisco-based Recology has the contract and competitor Waste Management wants to be given a chance to bid.
But Supervisor David Campos doesn't see why it should stop at two companies.
"One of the questions that we had is: What are other cities doing?" Campos said. "Our understanding is that in the 2008-09 year, San Mateo County conducted a nationwide search for services that are more or less the same as ours. They attracted seven qualified companies."
Recology clearly has an advantage.
But, as Campos said, there's nothing wrong with a competition, even if Recology is the best choice in the end.