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Quake Cleanup by Private Firm Urged

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, after a community meeting in Pacoima with public works officials, said he will ask the council to reconsider the idea of having a private contractor take over management of earthquake debris removal.

“We have to make a decision as to whether we are moving in the right direction,” said Alarcon, chairman of the public works committee. “I feel strongly that there’s a lot of money to be saved.”

Alarcon, whose proposal is to be considered during Tuesday’s council meeting, has complained about the pace of the debris removal. At the community meeting Thursday, Alarcon pointed to statistics that show only 46% of businesses involved in the cleanup are within the city of Los Angeles, while in the cleanup after the 1992 riots--managed by a private contractor--80% of businesses were in the city.

He said a private contractor could be less costly.

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In the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake, the City Council had considered and rejected using private contractors to manage the cleanup. Alarcon said he would like to reconsider the idea, especially because the city had put out requests for proposals without seeking cost estimates.

Now that the city has a better idea of what the cleanup is costing, a less expensive solution might be found in the private sector. Alarcon said the move would also save the city from having to use 78 city employees to manage the cleanup.

The city was using six crews for earthquake debris cleanup earlier this month. But as of this week, money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency allowed the city to bring that number up to 100 crews.

Each crew includes four or five workers, two dump trucks and a skip-loader to scoop the rubble into the trucks.

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