Chula Vista

Chula Vista City Leaders Certify Public Health Emergency Declaration at City Council Meeting

A special city council meeting planned for Friday evening was rescheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. due to technical difficulties

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After experiencing technical difficulties Friday, the Chula Vista City Council resumed their special meeting Saturday evening.

At Saturday's meeting, city leaders ratified the public health emergency declaration and other actions to get Republic Services back on the job.

"Our City is starting to look like trash, and this is unacceptable," Chula Vista city Councilmember Jill Galvez said. "You can go throughout the city and smell dirty diapers and accumulated trash and this is really a public health emergency and it’s unfortunate and it needs to be ended immediately."

The council said Saturday that the City of Chula Vista will start billing Republic Services if they do not follow through with their regular services.

"After the first 24 hours of trash not being picked up we can fine a $15 per resident charge onto Republic Services and after that $25 each and every day that trash is not picked up," Galvez said.

Local city workers and volunteers have stepped in to help amid the ongoing strike which began in December.

City work crews and partners have been dispatched to retrieve and pick up the piles of trash aside and adjacent to large bins at multi-family apartment complexes throughout the city, Galvez said.

The images above show the before and after of trash accumulation at an apartment complex in Chula Vista after local city workers and volunteers picked up trash.

The emergency declaration, which was ordered by City Manager Maria V. Kachadoorian on Jan. 12, implements certain actions that allow the city to address the trash crisis.

The order directs about 30 city staff members from different departments and some private contractors to collect trash in overflowing dumpsters in Chula Vista and some parts of San Diego. Collectors are focusing efforts on multi-family units and overflowing bins that are attracting pests, the city said. Then, efforts will concentrate on commercial locations.

Before Friday's meeting, Mayor Todd Gloria said trash pileup is threatening public health and safety, and gave Republic Services until Monday to meet the terms of their contract or face fines, suspension or even termination.

“With no resolution after weeks of negotiation between Republic Services and its striking workers, my office has given the company until Monday before escalating action to compel the trash hauler to meet their obligations under their franchise agreement. The situation as it stands is unacceptable and a public health and safety threat. I have supported and encouraged compromise. My next steps are fining the company, pursuing their performance bond and asking the City Council for authorization to seek an injunction to force compliance with terms of the agreement, which include weekly pickup and recycling of green and solid waste. Further options are suspension and termination of the franchise.”

Meanwhile, residents in Chula Vista are wondering why they're paying for a trash collection service that is not being fulfilled.

"I'm not going to pay for it," said resident Steve Monroe. "They owe us two or three weeks for not picking the trash up."

Manuel Ruiz, a Chula Vista resident said that the pile-up of trash has attracted people to come to scavenge the dumpsters.

"It attracted a lot of people who would just come and scavenge in the dumpster," he said. "Even at 5 in the morning, there were people trying to scavenge in the dumpster trying to find whatever they could."

Ruiz said he is frustrated but understands why the workers have to go on strike.

"Everybody is upset. Everybody is upset," said Ruiz. "We know they want to get paid, and they deserve it, they do. It’s not the cleanest job, it should get paid well."

Chula Vista City Councilmember Jill Galvez said she's asked the city manager to look into it and requested from Republic Services that a month of credit is issued to businesses, families and others who are still paying for the service.

NBC 7 reached out to Republic Services for comment. Here is what they said:

Republic Services is grateful for our longstanding partnership with the city of Chula Vista, and we share our community’s frustration that the union-led work stoppage has yet to be resolved. As part of the contract negotiation process, we conducted an extensive market analysis and found that our wages and benefits were very competitive among our industry in the Chula Vista/San Diego market. The offer we put forth includes significant increases in wages and benefits in addition to other enhancements to our employees’ total compensation packages. We remain willing to return to negotiations but have yet to hear how the union would like to proceed. We continue to work closely with the City of Chula Vista staff to collaborate on plans and approaches to navigating the situation.

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