Torrance : Hearing on Refuse Service

A public hearing will be held Feb. 4 on a staff proposal that the city provide refuse collection for three- and four-unit apartments.

The municipal code limits city collection to single-family dwellings and duplexes. Apartment houses with three units or more are required to contract with private haulers.

Carole Rountree of the Street Maintenance Department, which handles garbage collection, said she is proposing the change because the city is inadvertently collecting trash from many three- and four-unit complexes because of conversions and additions to buildings that continue to share water meters.

The city charges residents for refuse collection on water bills, but she said there is no way to ensure that city collection stops if the property is expanded beyond two units.

Rountree also said many three- and four-unit apartments are interspersed with single-family homes and two-unit apartments, making it easy for tenants in the larger complexes to illegally use alley containers provided by the city if their apartment owners do not contract with a private hauler.

The city provides special containers in alleys so its automated refuse trucks can use mechanical arms to empty them.

Rountree said if three- and four-unit apartment owners were charged the residential rate on a per-unit basis, refuse service for them could be less expensive. She said the current monthly rate for single units is $7.25, which would be $29 for a four-unit apartment. She said the average monthly rate for comparable service from private haulers is about $45. For the city, she said, the change probably would be a break-even proposition.

Rountree said that of 20,872 apartment units in the city, 2,649 are in three- or four-unit complexes.

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