San Diego City Council

November Ballot Measure Could Add Trash Service Fees for Some San Diegans

Trash removal services have cost the city $260 million in the past five years and are expected to balloon to $380 million in the next five

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The San Diego City Council has voted to move forward with a ballot measure that could change the way trash removal services are paid for in the city.

Many of the city's single-family home residents don't pay for garbage services, and it's been that way for more than 100 years thanks to the "People's Ordinance." Meanwhile, most apartment and condominium owners have to pay for trash removal services and landlords typically pass that fee on to tenants. If passed in November, the measure could give the city council the option to amend the People's Ordinance and introduce a new fee for those who don't currently pay for trash service.

"Despite having the same property taxes, only single-family homes are benefiting from the People's Ordinance at this time leaving approximately half of San Diegans to pay for 100% of solid waste services," said Lauren Cazares from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Trash removal services have cost the city $260 million in the past five years and are expected to balloon to $380 million in the next five because of a new state law requiring the disposal of organic waste, according to a city study. The study also found that comparable California cities were charging homeowners anywhere from $25 to $100 per month for trash removal depending on the level of service.

Some San Diegans say the cost of living is already so high that many single-family residents can't afford any additional costs.

"Living here in the city of San Diego, living in a single-family house in southeast San Diego ... I’ve met many colleagues and residents who have had the shared experience of struggling to make it here in San Diego," said Rodney Fowler Sr., a San Diego resident.

The city council voted 7-2 to approve the ballot measure with councilmembers Marni Von Wilpert and Chris Cate voting against it. Von Wilpert said she is worried about the timing of this measure because of low voter turnout, inflation and high gas prices and thinks it might be better to have it on the ballot during a general presidential election.

If voters approve the ballot measure, the city council would launch a cost analysis study to look into a potential cost recovery structure for trash removal services in the city. Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said it would be years before any new fees would be imposed on San Diegans.

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