Meeting on trash services focuses on quality

The Newport Beach City Council could approve a contract with a private trash hauling company as early as Nov. 12, city staff confirmed Thursday.

Such a vote would follow the council's 4-3 decision on Sept. 10 to pursue a contract with one of three companies — CR&R; Waste Services, Ware Disposal Co. or Rainbow Environmental Services — to take over the city's refuse pickup service.

That September vote did not guarantee services would be outsourced. It only ensured a contract would be considered. But many have taken it as done deal.

A talk Wednesday night on the issue looked past the question of whether or not the City Council should outsource the service and focused instead on how the city will ensure the same quality of service will be maintained when it does.

"I do not expect there to be any more discussion on the merits of it because we've made our decision," said Councilman Tony Petros, who voted against pursuing the contract.

He and Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, a supporter of outsourcing, fielded questions from about 75 people at a public forum hosted by Speak Up Newport. Many who spoke wondered how the council plans to vet the contract.

"I don't want a standard contract. You don't want a standard contract. Nobody wants a standard contract," Harbor View Hills resident Barry Allen said to applause soon after from the crowd.

Allen asked if the city staff might release the proposed contract for review 30 days prior to the council's vote. He worries the city will accept a basic contract, rather than require one specific to the needs of Newport Beach.

The city has 16 employees who pick up the majority of trash in Newport Beach. They drive trucks from house to house, reaching even those in tight alleyways, and pick up — by hand — any refuse left by the curb. The city does not require specific bins to be used. In fact, they don't require bins at all.

The city promised to provide employment for each refuse worker for at least the next two and a half years.

Newport Heights resident Dan Boyd doubts that any company could provide the same high level of service.

He nonetheless asked for assurance that the contract chosen would be picked for its quality, rather than its price tag. Boyd did not believe the council could reconsider its decision.

"We haven't lost our passion. We're still very disgruntled," Boyd said. "This is very typical of City Council moving forward without paying attention to the citizens of Newport Beach."

At the end of the talk, resident Pat Hagemeyer threw up her arms in despair.

The deal has not been finalized, but she, like Boyd, noted that it seemed too late to change.

"I don't know why we're here," she said to those sitting next to her. "It was done."

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