SANTA MONICA—Garbage collection rates are set to increase by 11% each year for the next five years after City council members unanimously approved new rates at a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 13.
For the last three years during the Covid-19 pandemic, garbage rates in Santa Monica have been frozen while residents experienced financial uncertainty.
“Meanwhile,” said Yvonne Yeung, the City’s Resource Recovery and Recycling (RRR) Manager. “Rising costs and a stronger demand for a cleaner and greener city means a rate adjustment is absolutely needed now.”
Plans for the garbage rate increase gained support from the City Council at a meeting on February 28 of this year.
Effective August 1, 2023, the new rates will allow Santa Monica to hire additional sanitation workers to meet the community’s needs as well as help the department comply with California’s new organics recycling laws.
The increase will also fund a new community cleanup program where residents can apply for a neighborhood cleanup day. RRR will provide community volunteers with necessary cleaning supplies and haul away any trash free of charge.
“A total of 93 essential workers provide 7-day-a-week services including the recycling of blue bin materials, composting of green bin materials, collection of landfill trash, household hazardous waste, street sweeping, illegal dumping cleanup, and public education in order to keep Santa Monica clean, safe and sustainable,” said Yeung.
“It takes 37 million dollars each year for RRR to provide these services including responding to up to 180 illegal dumping and bulky item collection requests per day, which is the number one most requested 3-1-1 service in the city.”
Tackling illegal dumping has been a community priority to keep Santa Monica’s streets clean and safe, but budget cuts during the pandemic created a significant loss of employees. Funds from the increased rates are set to improve and expand the work of the Bulky Item and Illegal Dumping Response Team by hiring more permanent and full-time workers. The team would monitor areas prone to dumping and proactively clean streets and alleyways.
According to Yeung’s report, Santa Monica currently has 444 residents that qualify for California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE). Based on income level and participation in public assistance programs, these residents qualify for discounted electricity, gas, and water rates. A new Solid Waste Rate Assistance Program would extend a 10% discount to garbage collection in order to minimize the financial impacts on eligible ratepayers.
By Paige Strickland