Santa Clarita's first curbside recycling program will begin in two weeks with 3,000 households participating in the first phase of an effort that local planners hope to have operating citywide by April.
The first phase will be provided free until April by three local trash haulers who hope to obtain franchises giving them exclusive rights to operate within Santa Clarita, Public Works Director John Medina said.
Medina said it will cost the three companies--Blue Barrel Disposal, Atlas Disposal and Santa Clarita Disposal Co.--a combined $90,000 to carry out the first phase of the program.
The City Council gave the haulers permission Tuesday night to begin distributing recycling bins to single-family households and authorized Medina to begin negotiations on franchise agreements with the companies.
Residents will be required to separate their trash into recyclable and non-recyclable materials. They can still take recyclable material to private refuse firms if they choose.
Santa Clarita residents now hire the disposal firm of their choice and, in some instances, two or three companies serve the same block. The franchises would divide the city among three companies, Medina said.
Michael Zipp, owner of Santa Clarita Recycling, urged the council not to grant franchises, saying franchises would create an unfair monopoly. Zipp's firm, which began operating in Santa Clarita three months ago, charges homeowners $3 a month to haul away recyclable materials.
But on Wednesday the owner of Blue Barrel Disposal, Nazareth Chabonian, said franchises would reduce unnecessary crossover, reduce overall garbage truck traffic and make trash pickup more efficient in the city.
The three haulers charge homeowners between $15.60 and $16.85 to haul away household trash each month. Medina estimated that the citywide program could raise monthly trash bills about $2.50.
On Wednesday, the three trash haulers were gearing up for the Oct. 15 start date, fitting trash trucks with separate compartments, one for newspapers and one for a mix of plastics, glass and metal.
The plastics, glass and metals will be combined in a 34-gallon bin and separated later at a recycling center. On Wednesday 1,000 of the bright green containers arrived at Santa Clarita Disposal, which will serve the Sierra Hills and Mountain View neighborhoods.
The Sky Blue neighborhood will be served by Atlas, and the Summit and Hidden Valley developments by Blue Barrel. The program will include only single-family households.
To ensure the trash haulers with a steady flow of recyclable materials, the City Council on Tuesday also passed an "anti-scavenger" ordinance making it illegal to take cans, bottles and other materials from recycling bins left at the curb.
Violators could be fined up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for the third offense in a year. The fourth offense would be a misdemeanor.