San Jose to Review City’s Trash-Hauling, Recycling Contracts

San Jose is poised to renew its contract with recycling and waste-hauling companies Garden City Sanitation, GreenTeam and GreenWaste Recovery, but to cut ties—for now—with a fourth, California Waste Solutions.

City staff cited an inordinate number of customer complaints, a high asking price for contract renewal, failures to hit recycling targets and a high issuance of non-collection notices—citations taped to residents’ curbside bins when the company deems its contents as improperly sorted. According to the city, the notices were handed out excessively, with “more than half” issued with no regard to contractually agreed-upon procedure.

California Waste Solutions begs to differ, claiming they have performed within their obligations and have not abused the non-compliance-notice system.

The council on Tuesday will decide whether San Jose’s Environmental Services Department should end current contract negotiations with California Waste Solutions and instead start from scratch.

On a related note, the council will consider striking down a resolution to offer a living wage to workers of Recycle Plus, the city’s  recycling program for apartment and townhome complexes. A law already on the books entitles workers who contribute at least 50 percent of their hours to a city contract to earn a living wage. Recycle Plus workers, according to a city audit, contribute 45.71 percent—just under the threshold.

The council will also weigh its options for reducing waste collected by Recycle Plus in response to China’s National Sword policy, which severely limited the amount of re-usable papers and plastics that the U.S. can export there. The National Sword policy, passed in 2007 by the Chinese government, banned imported recyclables to the country. In essence, China is no longer taking American trash, leading it to pile up in many western states. A long-term solution has yet to be hashed out.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for January 15, 2019:

  • Manufacturing, testing labs and distributors will be added to San Jose’s regulatory framework for cannabis businesses. Like the 16 licensed clubs in town, each business would be required to comply with strict security measures, including criminal background checks for all employees and granting police access to the facility and the city access to its books. Council members Raul Peralez and Magdalena Carrasco also propose expanding the number of places in the city where cannabis businesses can open, allowing existing ones to open a second site and making city audits of the facilities random instead of annual. They also suggest rolling out an equity program to ensure that disadvantaged groups that were criminalized by the drug war have a chance to work in the newly legalized cannabis industry. San Jose is the last large city in California without such an equity program, according to a shared memo by Peralez and Carrasco.
  • The San Jose Public Library system will upgrade its anti-theft measures by adding $85,000 worth of sensors and sensor-reading equipment at 23 branches.
  • The council will vote on Mayor Sam Liccardo’s nominee for vice mayor: District 1 Councilman Chappie Jones, who will succeed District 5 Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco.
  • Councilors will vote on bringing the city’s car-towing program under the full oversight of the San Jose Police Department. The proposal comes in response to an audit that identified numerous instances of misconduct involving the city’s six contract towing companies. Council members Jones, Sergio Jimenez, Raul Peralez and Dev Davis authored a joint memo suggesting that the city putt out a call for new contractors because some of the existing companies refuse to cooperate with tow requests, leaving some vehicles abandoned on the streets for upward of 90 days. “Our residents desire and deserve well-run, responsive partners to help us remove problem vehicles from our city streets,” their recommendation reads. Thus, it continues: “Tow companies with city contracts must be held accountable, and they must uphold the requirements outlined in the contract.”
  • Appointments to council subcommittees will be doled out. Mayor Liccardo wants Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco to chair the ad hoc Housing Construction and Development Services Committee; newly elected Councilwoman Maya Esparza to lead the newly created Monterey Corridor Working Group with Councilman Sergio Jimenez. The mayor also stacked the most powerful council subcommittee, Rules and Open Government, with a majority of his allies: about-to-be-Vice Mayor Chappies Jones and council members Johnny Khamis and Dev Davis, with Liccardo as chair. He recommended Sylvia Arenas as the fifth member.

WHAT: City council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260


  1. I’m sure we can count on our Democrat leadership, which holds meetings in local union halls, as described in the previous article, to negotiate good deals for us “constituents”.

  2. Start attempting to act like a big city. These tow companies need to be dumped ASAP. The city needs to set up its own towing service and utilize their own storage lot much like LAPD does. Has anyone seen the number of abandoned motorhomes, trailers, trucks larger than half ton? Companies like City Tow flat out refuse to comply with an officers request for a tow, How do we allow them to get away with this. So much for a contract. The need to be dumped. The east side looks like an abandoned tow yard and that not mentioning the piles of trash in many residential neighborhoods. Wake up council and do your job for once!

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