Soaring Pacifica Trash Rates Already Almost Double What Montara Residents Pay

Pacifica’s city council will consider an additional 1.9 percent rate hike to customers who already pay some of the highest rates in the county.

If you live in Pacifica, it costs $35.95 to have your 32-gallon garbage containers collected.

Just seven or so miles to the south, it costs Montara residents $18.02 to have that same trash bin emptied.

Pacifica residents, who could soon see an additional collection fee rate increase, already pay some of the highest rates on the Peninsula, according to data provided to Patch by Recology, a private waste management company that serves most of San Mateo County.

Recology spokeswoman Gina Antonini said rates for the coastal Peninsula cities were negotiated by Coastal Scavenger, the distressed competitor her company bought out in 2010.

“These were rates that were not set by Recology and were inherited when they bought the service territory and acquired that company because they were having financial issues,” Antonini said.

Recology is in negations with Montara and Pacifica to adjust those rates, Antonini said.

“We'll work to figure out an appropriate rate over the next few months of negotiations,” Antonini said.

Atherton tops the Peninsula trash collection rate pile, with residents paying $55.00 to have a 32-gallon container collected. East Palo Alto ($39.81) is the only other city Recology serves where customers pay more.

San Mateo residents get the most bang for their garbage buck, paying just $17.76 to have their 32-gallon containers emptied.

Recology public affairs manager Gino Gasperini said that his company negotiates contracts with municipalities and county officials for residents in unincorporated areas, who then set residential rates.

“The rates do vary,” Gasperini said. “A lot of the mountainous areas take longer to service than the flat areas here (in San Mateo), so that’s a (cost) driver as well.”

Pacifica’s city council will consider a 1.89 percent rate increase on at a Nov. 26 meeting, according to Pacifica Riptide, which is circulating a downloadable petition protesting the rate hike.

The rate hike would be Pacifica’s fourth since the 2010 Coastal Scavenger takeover, Riptide correspondent Lionel Emde reports.


Recology Trash Collection Rates in San Mateo County


























East Palo Alto *





Foster City





Hillsborough **





San Mateo





Menlo Park





N. Fair Oaks *





Redwood City





San Carlos





West Bay Sanitary Dist.






Not available



Not available


Not available



Not available

El Granada

Not available



Not available




Source: Recology

* East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks residents are given the same size collection carts.

**Hillsborough residents pay an additional $25 monthly fee.

Note: Recology declined to provide rates for 20 and 96 gallon containers in Pacifica, Montara and El Granada.

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David October 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I can't wait for these people to be shut down. Rip off for sure. Just say NO.
Carolyn Stepp October 25, 2012 at 06:26 PM
This is wrong!!! Why are Pacificans allowing this. Do any of you know the salaries of the garbage company employees? Look into it. And please protest this outrageoues increase!!
NB October 25, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Ridiculous! They need to be stopped! And this with an every-other week recycling pick up?? Give me a break
DustyBaker October 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
This is on top of the monopoly they have on dumpster rentals in Pacifica (meaning you must rent a dumpster from Recology at their rates, no other company is allowed to rent dumpsters in Pacifica).
Lionel Emde October 26, 2012 at 04:18 AM
“The rates do vary,” Gasperini said. “A lot of the mountainous areas take longer to service than the flat areas here (in San Mateo), so that’s a (cost) driver as well.” That's why Montara, San Mateo, San Carlos, et al, all of which have hilly areas pay far less than Pacifica, because I say it's so. What balderdash. That's rich that Recology wouldn't give Patch the data for Pacifica v. Montara. What is it, private information? This is a quasi-public agency with monopoly contracts. The Pacifica city council is responsible for this ripoff - all of them. Not one councilperson has voted against ANY rate increase since this backroom deal was negotiated. Pacifica will pay $23.38 per month, up from $22.95 per month for a 20-gallon can. You can download protest letters from Pacifica Riptide.com, or create your own - Be sure to include the address of the property and the signature of the person whose name appears on the bill. Mail to: City Clerk, 170 Santa Maria Ave. Pacifica CA 94044, before the November 26, 2012 hearing. No emails accepted.
Chris Porter October 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM
No one called me for any information. I find this funny since I am the general manager of this area. Lionel, you had the answer from the information you printed above. Why didn't you give it to your friend from Patch or ask him to call me?
Lionel Emde October 26, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Chris, No one called me for any information, either. The Patch reporter must have taken some info from my reporting on Pacifica Riptide, where anyone can see it. But it's funny that your company won't give out publicly published rates. Is that even legal?
Carolyn Stepp October 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I will retract my previous statement due to the fact I can not verify their salaries. But I am still outraged at this upcoming increase. Why do we pay higher rates than Hillborough?
Chris Porter October 26, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Lionel, no one asked me either. That was the point I was trying to make and Carolyn, please reread the chart. Hillsborough has a $25 a month additional charge and other fees not listed.
Gideon Rubin October 27, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Chris, Thanks for taking the time to comment. The rates for Peninsula cities reported in this story were provided by Gino Gasperini and Gina Antonini through a request made with Mary Sawai. Antonini and Sawai did not respond to multiple requests for additional rate information for Pacifica, Montara and El Granada over a five day period. Both Antonini and Sawai were repeatedly asked for an appropriate point of contact in the event that they were not willing or able to provide this information. Neither responded.
Lionel Emde October 28, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Well there's some responsiveness by Recology. Waste nothing, as they say, they wasted no reponse on Patch. The GD information is public information, there is absolutely no excuse for it not being readily available to whoever wants it. Pacifica needs a competitive bidding process for the upcoming contract on solid waste collection in 2016. That's the way it should have been done in the first place. You can thank the current city council and city manager Steve Rhodes for the really high rates you pay now, because Recology waltzed into a no-bid contract at the highest rates in the county. That's antithetical to the interest of the ratepayers. Will any ratepayer advocates be elected in November?
Kali October 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM
I feel bad for you guys. We, in the unicorporated country of San Mateo ( we are spread all over in pockets of S.M. ) pay a high price also, and just got notice we are geting a 9% increase come 1/13. This is crap. I live in San Carlos, ( Devonshire is uninc ). 15 ft from our street is the city of San Carlos. I see trucks wizzing by on Tues for San Carlos, and us on Fri. They do this all over the county. How efficent is that? They tell me they cannot come down our street because we are unic. So they send a whole fleet of trucks that could have done the same thing for all of us. SC pays $18 for a 20g/. we pay $25 going to $28. We don't live in the middle of no where. Uninc have no one to negotiate for us. It is just a free for all. Recology is a joke. They said the increase is because they are losing money. Gee, with this kind of management, you think? Pacifica, I would fight hard. Foster City and R.C pay $11.00? I may just cancel my service and bring my garbage to the SC center and just dump it. If everyone did, they might get the hint.
Chris Porter October 28, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Lionel,for the final time, you know Recology purchased the contract from Coastside Scavenger. There was a clause in the Coastside contract that allowed the purchase to be made. The funds owed the City of Pacifica for past due franchise fees were paid by Louie Picardo out of the escrow statement to the City of Pacifica so again, no, Recology did not pay the past due franchise fees to the City. And again, since this will be my last post because you are using a new vehicle now besides Pacifica,blogspot, Pacifica Riptide and the Pacifica Tribune to tell your "story", Recology of the Coast knows we will not be "refunded" in the rate structure for any donations we make to the community. Donations are just part of the budget we must submit to the City on a yearly basis, along with an outside audited financial statement, showing how our money is allocated,so please stop the new form of your "story" saying we are "trying to buy the community". I have also donated alot of my personal time (off the work clock hours) to contribute to the community.
Lionel Emde October 29, 2012 at 03:57 AM
"Lionel,for the final time, you know Recology purchased the contract from Coastside Scavenger." Yes, Chris, In a backroom deal, Recology was allowed to purchase Coastide Scavenger, which was in breach of its contract to the city of Pacifica to the tune of $800,000+. "Recology of the Coast knows we will not be "refunded" in the rate structure for any donations we make to the community." And the community knows it is being gouged bigtime. Donations are just part of the budget we must submit to the City on a yearly basis, along with an outside audited financial statement, showing how our money is allocated,so please stop the new form of your "story" saying we are "trying to buy the community". Funny thing Chris, it wasn't my opinion about the disallowing of almost $15,000 in "political and charitable donations, " it was the audit of the consultant. That's what I reported, so you'll have to argue with the consulting firm, HF & H, about their conclusion. The fact is, Recology got caught using ratepayers money for purposes not allowed under the franchise agreement. The contract needs to be put out to bid in 2016. Maybe we can get a reasonable rate for solid waste collection, instead of being gouged.
Kali October 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Not true. I live in the Unicorproated area of San Carlos Devonshire. 15 ft from all our streets is the city of San Carlos. All trucks woul have to do is make a right turn on our street and they could pick up our garbage. Trucks wiz by on Tues to pick up S.C garbage, then come back on fri to do ours. And they say they are losing money. I wonder why. SC pays $18. I will be paying $ 28 come 1/13 for a 20 gal can. There are pockets like this all over. Emerald hills in rewood city sits smack in the middle of RC. RC pays $18. These unic areas were drawn decades ago and never changed. We are 5 mins from the station for goodness sakes.
Chris Porter October 29, 2012 at 06:20 PM
We did not get caught using rate payers money for contributions and donations. It is part of the budget that must be submitted to the City and the auditors were advising the City staff that this money was not part of the rate structure. For the final time, Louie Picardo had the right to sell the company to who ever he pleased and your term of a "backroom deal" is again part of your "story". Please add that over 5,000 customers are now paying less then they were in 2007 due to the new programs. If you were paying $27.99 for a thirty-two gallon cart in 2007, you have been able to reduce to a 20 gallon cart at a new fee of $23.38 in Jan 2013 which is still 16% less than 6 years ago! Gouging, I think not.
DustyBaker October 29, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Hi Chris, Busy day at the office?
Lionel Emde October 29, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Yes, gouging, big time. Almost every one in the county pays less than we do - right now. Put it out to bid, as it should have been in the first place! No more backroom deals by the city council and our dear city manager Mr. Rhodes.
Chris Porter October 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Lionel, why do I even bother to try to have rational discussion with you. I guess you are not one of the 5,000. Keep to your "story", the same one you have been telling with slight variances for the past fifteen years.
Jim Wagner October 29, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I've watched this "war of words" go on for a long time. Frankly, I don't understand it. I know both Lionel and Chris and find them both reasonable people. All I know is, I'm paying less for trash pick-up than I did before. I have a 20 gallon trash can. It seldom has more than one sack of landfill-bound trash each week. I don't see anyone on my block with a 32 gallon trash can. All 20 gallon. We have single stream AND compost bins. Many of the cities on the Peninsula don't have the compost pick up. We all like to tout our eco-creeds. I think Recology has given us all an opportunity help with zero landfill. (this is not a paid endorsement by Recology) Further more, the fact that my pick-up bill has gone down and i'm sending less to a landfill is a win-win for me. When any of the other utilities add services my bill certainly doesn't go down. Oh, and can anyone name the number of cities on the Peninsula that have a recycle yard?
Jo Tog October 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I, also, like this new system better. I like our garbage dump and recycle centers. I am pleased with the service and as of now have no cpmplaints. It's expensive in the state of California. To run our government costs us a lot of money, you know, with all the regulations and such. So I hope the garbage people are paid a decent wage and benefits. Cap and Trade has raised the cost of all things living and dead. Get used to it.
Lionel Emde October 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
How many cities on the peninsula don't have compost pickup, and how many of them pay as much as Pacifica? That's an unsupported assertion , Jim. The "lower cost" assertion is only true if you went down to a 20-gallon can. And it's rising so rapidly in cost (4 rate raises in two years!) that soon it will cost what a 32-gallon can did formerly. All the people unfortunate enough to still have 32-gallon cans? Well, tough luck, eh Chris? You guys are on the Chamber of Commerce board which, unsurprisingly, is the big apologist for Recology. The executive VP, Ms. Conlon, stood up before the city council at the last rate hearing and told everyone what a "great deal" this contract was. You really should get out into the business community more often and ask business owners how they feel about paying the highest commercial rates in San Mateo County.
Lionel Emde October 31, 2012 at 03:55 AM
"Note: Recology declined to provide rates for 20 and 96 gallon containers in Pacifica, Montara and El Granada." Yo, Chris, what would be these figures? You well know what they are, being the general manager of an enterprise that serves Pacifica (highest rates in most of the county) and Montara/mid-coast (some of the lowest rates in the county.) Now we know that Pacifica pays abnormally high rates, and Montara's about half as much, why would that be? For the same trucks run out of the same location in Pacifica? We're still waiting for an answer?,,,
Lionel Emde November 01, 2012 at 05:01 AM
It's not warm enough for crickets, but that's all I'm hearing from you guys... Chris, you keep talking about a "rational discussion", and are unable to come up with any data. Any comment on that?
Waste Not Want Not November 01, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Lionel: Just like the Lionel train I had when I was a kid, you just keep goin' round in circles. You gotta stop trash talkin' Chris with all of those recycled barbs. Most of your garbage comments are wasted here so stop littering this forum with them. And always remember, my dear Lionel, when it comes to competitive bidding, garbage in, garbage out.
Lionel Emde November 01, 2012 at 05:30 AM
How long have you worked for Recology?
Waste Not Want Not November 01, 2012 at 05:34 AM
The real question, my dear Mr. Lionel, is: "How long has Recology worked for you?" See how I did that?
Lionel Emde November 02, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Recology has stolen from the public for long enough. In 2016, the Pacifica city council wil reconsider the contract and your employer will, perhaps, lower the rates through a comptitive bidding process. You've heard of that ,of course? It's used in the real world.
Anthony Soprano November 02, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Looky here Mr. Smarty Pants Lionel Empty. Youse betta watch dem incinerations youse makin about me boyz in waste management. And wassup wit dat competitive biddin garbage? And I means garbage. I know guyz sleepin in da Jersey River for less. You knows, when we was lookin to name our company, some of the boyz suggested we calls it somethin catchy like "Land-fillabusters" or "Garbage to Go" but I thoughts since this was the Bay Area with all of youse environmental kooks and all we should go with somethin that sounded sorta enviro-mental. So we went with dat "Recology" thing. See how we did dat combinin doz two environmentalisms "recycle" and "ecology"? What a scam! LOL! But youse guys sure fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. LOLOL!!! Just thinx. All wese had tado was call ourselves some stupid environmental name and youse guys gave us da keys to da kingdom. Dat guy PT Barnum sure was some sort of genius. True dat! LOLOLOL!!
Lionel Emde November 05, 2012 at 05:30 AM
No Anthony, the Pacifica city council, not the public, fell for it.


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