Landfill contract for San Francisco requires closer inspection

Opponents believed several things stunk about San Francisco’s deal to haul its waste to Yuba County once San Francisco’s current landfill disposal contract expires in 2015. So The City did the right thing in canceling the contract and airing out the details to make sure everything is aboveground about the plan to bury our garbage at a new location.

The fight was over a 10-year, $112 million landfill disposal contract with Recology, the company that has a monopoly on The City’s waste services and beat out Waste Management in the bidding process. That company sued The City, saying the process was improper.

Meanwhile, an unrelated group called Yuba Group Against Garbage filed a lawsuit alleging that the plan to dispose of The City’s garbage in a Yuba County landfill was not subjected to a proper environmental study. Recology and The City will now share the cost of such an environmental study, which is expected to take a year. At that point, the contract will likely go back out to bid.

It would have been better had The City acknowledged the shortcomings of this process before now; surely the contract could have been reconsidered when these issues were first raised. Now, only time and a new environmental study will tell if shipping our trash to Yuba County is really a smart move.

If the proposal does return, the next bidding process should be as transparent as possible to ensure that no organizations, individuals or campaign donors have undue influence over the selection of who receives the lucrative business.

With two companies bidding, one will lose. But it is up to The City to ensure that the contest is a fair one.

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