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Huntington Beach considers terminating longtime trash-hauling contract

Huntington Beach considers terminating longtime trash-hauling contract
A trash truck from Rainbow Environmental Services on Nichols Lane in Huntington Beach passes the 1934 Japanese Presbyterian Church. (File Photo)

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday will consider terminating the contract with its longtime trash collector — a move officials say could lead to a competitive bidding process that benefits ratepayers.

If the proposal by Mayor Erik Peterson and Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta passes, it would direct the city manager to draft a letter notifying Republic Services of the city’s intent to leave its 15-year contract with the waste hauler.

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The contract was signed in 2006 by Rainbow Environmental, which Republic acquired in 2014.

The notice wouldn’t end the contract until the city completes the 15 year-pact. The letter would only begin the three-year process to terminate the contract’s annual one-year extensions.

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The letter would be presented to the council at the next meeting, however, it wouldn’t eliminate the option of both parties negotiating new contract terms.

Republic Services’ relationship with the city and residents has been rocky. The facility, which is located near Oak View Elementary School, came under fire in 2013 when the Ocean View School District took legal action, alleging that dust and odors from a waste transfer station at 17121 Nichols Lane were making schoolchildren and residents sick. A settlement was reached three years later.

In 2017, the council formed a committee to review the city’s waste management agreement in hopes of amending its binding contract — which automatically renews — rather than relying on a competitive bidding process that could lead to lower rates. According to the staff report, an agreement hasn’t been reached, despite multiple attempts.

Later that year, Huntington Beach learned the trash contractor charged its residents higher recycling fees than customers in other cities for about four years. The company, which had admitted violating its contract with Huntington Beach, awarded the city a $300,000 credit.

Peterson said the council accepted the evergreen contract in 2006 over advice from the city Finance Commission. He also said the contract’s evergreen clause should’ve been voided when Republic obtained Rainbow.

The 2006 contract states Rainbow shall not sell, assign or transfer its agreement without first receiving the city’s consent. In an unauthorized transfer, the city would’ve had the option to terminate the agreement by adopting an ordinance.

New interim city manager

In other business, the council will consider appointing its assistant city manger to step in when City Manager Fred Wilson resigns May 10 to take a job in the private sector.

If appointed, Assistant City Manager Lori Ann Ferrell-Harrison would receive$122.68 an hour while the city conducts a nationwide search for Wilson’s permanent replacement.

Ferrell-Harrison has 28 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She worked as chief financial officer and city controller for the city of Long Beach and served as board president for the Port of Long Beach before coming to Huntington in 2010.

Amendment to taxi cab ordinance

The council will also formalize its amended ordinance to comply with the Orange County Transportation Authority’s new rules for taxi cabs.

Monday’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 2000 Main St.

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