In his 63 years of living on the same block in Chula Vista, resident Joseph Rasso said he's never seen a mess like the one created by the month-long trash strike that had garbage cans overflowing all over the city.
“Turn on your tap and you expect water. You turn on the switch, you expect lights to come on. You put trash on the curb, you expect them to pick it up. When they don't, there you are," exclaimed Rasso.
He’s not only faced with the eyesore at home but at La Bella Pizza Garden, which he co-owns and the condos where he’s on the board -- for which he hired a private company to haul away the heaping mess for hundreds of dollars.
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Rasso snapped pictures of himself on top of the Dumpster showing how he had to jump in to give the trash to the company he hired. He says now that Republic Services and Teamsters Local 542 have come to an agreement, he’s ready to recoup the complex’s cash from the trash company.
“They’re going to give me a bill and I will give them the receipt that shows here’s what we had to pay to haul trash away. They’ll say, ‘The heck with you,’ and we’ll probably go to small claims court. What are you going to do? I paid $611 to haul the trash away that they would not haul away.”
Chula Vista Councilmember Jill Galvez said she’s going to try and make customers whole.
“I have demanded citizens, businesses and schools -- everyone receives a full month’s bill credit for this 30-day strike interruption,” Galvez said.
Galvez is among those calling for Republic Services customers to get credited for the month of trash that wasn’t picked up.
“We want to make sure there is some accountability for this happening and make sure our residents get some type of credit that is fair to compensate them for having to suffer through this strike," said fellow councilmember John McCann.
While the public health emergency declaration allowed the city to fine Republic Services for trash not picked up, it remains to be seen if the council has the power to force refunds or credits.
The council may not have the power to force refunds.
“[Republic Services] need to do the right thing,” said Galvez. “And it’s our job to make sure they do.”
Rasso is among the Chula Vista residents who say “That would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.”
Councilmembers say they’re working with the city attorney and city manager to make sure customers receive some type of refund or credit on their bills.
And in San Diego, the mayor’s office says the city will seek reimbursement for costs incurred at city facilities.