After three long, dramatic nights of public meetings, Daly City's City Council voted Wednesday to extend the contract for Allied Waste as the city's sanitation contractor.
With Allied Waste's existing contract scheduled to end in June, the city put out a call for bids last year to give other sanitation service providers a chance to compete for a new contract, which is worth about $14 million per year.
Allied Waste's stiffest competitor in the request for proposal process was Recology, which has subsidiaries that serve numerous Bay Area cities, including San Francisco.
The City Council's vote had originally been scheduled to take place during its Monday council meeting, which was packed with hundreds of supporters of both solid-waste companies. But after hours of testimony from several dozen commenters, the council voted to continue the matter and hold a special meeting the next day. After another night of debate, the council again continued the matter, finally arriving at a decision during a third meeting in a 4-1 vote in favor of Allied Waste.
The approval came despite a recommendation from City Manager Pat Martel that the contract be awarded to Recology. While Martel said Allied Waste's performance over the last 16 years has been “less than satisfactory,” she acknowledged that the company had improved its service in recent years and is now generally consistent with industry standards.
Expressing concerns that Daly City could face stiff fines if it fails to meet state-mandated recycling and composting goals, Martel said she was more confident in Recology's ability to guarantee the needed waste diversion rate. Martel and consultant Robert Hilton outlined a host of other reasons they believed Recology would better meet the city's needs, concluding that the employee-owned company would give the city better service for less money.
But during the hours of public comment that followed, the tide turned in Allied Waste's favor. Although numerous Recology supporters addressed the council, many were employee-owners from outside the community. Allied Waste's supporters, on the other hand, were mostly Daly City residents, and included representatives from several of the town's homeowners associations.
Resident Marian Mann touched on environmental issues in voicing her support, noting that Allied Waste had promised to only use compressed natural gas-powered trucks from the start of the new contract, while Recology planned to slowly phase out its diesel-powered garbage trucks over a period of almost a decade.
“I want them [CNG-powered trucks] now,” Mann said. “My kids, grandkids and great grandkids have to breathe this air.”
The promise of a greener, all-CNG-powered truck fleet was one reason Mayor David Canepa said he voted to award the contract to Allied Waste. He added that the company's broad support among the city's homeowners associations also influenced his decision, as did his belief that Allied Waste's proposal would save the city $15 million over the life of the 15-year contract.
Councilman Sal Torres, who also voted in Allied Waste's favor, said “the elephant in the room” that had to be addressed was corruption allegations Recology has faced in other communities. When Torres questioned Recology President Michael Sangiacomo about that issue, the councilman said he did not receive satisfactory answers.
While some residents attacked Martel for supporting Recology, Torres praised the thoroughness of her work, crediting the city manager with providing information he needed to make an informed decision.
Councilman Mike Guingona said he cast the dissenting vote in Recology's favor because he trusted Martel's cost-benefit analysis and thought the company was offering the city a better deal.