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Council agrees to trash deal

Rates are higher than in some other cities in the county because of the city's topography and other factors. Final approval will come in April.

January 31, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

The City Council talked trash Tuesday.

Months of negotiations and the hiring of a consultant to assist the city staff paid off as the general terms of a franchise agreement with Waste Management of Orange County were unanimously approved. The city manager and city attorney were directed to fine-tune the agreement and bring a final version to the council by April.

"All things being equal financially, we couldn't have a better partner," Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson said. "They 'get' Laguna. They do what we want them to do and in the 1995 landslide they bent over backwards to help our residents."

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City staff recommended approval of the tentative agreement, although rates are higher in Laguna than in some other communities.

Richard Tagore-Erwin, principal of the RC Consulting Group, who participated in the negotiations on behalf of the city, reported to the council that the city's comparatively high cost for trash collection and recycling is due to topography, difficult-to-maneuver-streets, distance from the landfill, relatively high amounts of disposal tonnage and level of service.

Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson said the service in Laguna is impressive, even when compared to other well-run cities.

"We never have to sweep the street after trash is collected," Johnson said. "Trash cans are left in the same place or very nearby after they are emptied — we don't have to walk up and down the street looking for them.

"Overstuffed trash cans are emptied, not left behind, and I notice these in many neighborhoods on trash day. Orders for dumpsters and pick-ups are also promptly handled, and when we request new trash cans, they are delivered promptly and the old one removed."

Waste Management also provides vital services at many community events, including the Patriots Day Parade, Johnson said.

Laguna Canyon resident Ann Quilter cited services provided by the company's Community Relations Manager Michelle Clark in the aftermath of the December 2010 floods when cleaning up was a top priority.

"She begged, borrowed and stole — I don't know what else she did, but the number of bins that were provided pro bono was astounding," Quilter said. "She [would] deliver one and the next day or night or at 4 a.m. it was picked up and an empty one dropped off.

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