After an at-times emotional discussion, the Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday awarded a $3.2-million contract to waste hauler CR&R Inc. to empty city-maintained trash cans along the beach, at bus stops, on piers and elsewhere on city rights-of-way.
It was a CR&R truck that fatally struck 8-year-old Brock McCann as he rode his bike home from Newport Heights Elementary School in 2016, and the impact of the third-grader’s death lingers.
Brock’s father, Murphy McCann, urged the council to reject CR&R for the seven-year contract.
“Since they killed my kid over two years ago I’ve tried many times and have found them non-responsive to improving their operations around schools,” he said.
Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield quietly said he was taken aback by McCann’s “powerful testimony.”
Councilman Brad Avery, who represents the Newport Heights area where the collision occurred, acknowledged the recent history and asked city staff about how many complaints CR&R has gotten since the death and how it compares to other haulers.
“I think a tragedy like this shouldn’t necessarily exclude a firm that I think enjoyed a pretty good reputation up until the time of the tragedy,” Avery said.
Keith Hinckley, a city management analyst who coordinates with trash haulers, didn’t offer statistics, but said he doesn’t think complaints against CR&R have worsened since 2016.
He said the public has been vocal about sharing concerns, but feedback has dropped since the city implemented tougher operating restrictions on all trash companies last year in response to the fatality.
He said haulers have been cooperative too.
Hinckley also said sometimes callers misidentify CR&R. The city has five major waste haulers, plus more than 30 who service Dumpsters.
He called Brock McCann’s death a tragic anomaly.
“CR&R has devoted a lot of energies to correcting the problems and making sure there are much (safer) conditions out there,” Hinckley said.
Jeff Snow, a CR&R vice president, said that although he couldn’t go into detail because of an ongoing lawsuit with the McCanns, the company has always focused on safety.
“Our company has never, ever taken anything more seriously than the incident that occurred,” he said. “The incident shook the city, shook the county. It shook the industry.”
The council voted 5-1, with Jeff Herdman dissenting, to award the company the contract.