County Supervisors finally crack down on illegal trash haulers

Efforts to pass ordinance since 2011

By Daniel Borsuk

After years of foot-dragging by the county officials and Contra Costa’s two major solid waste haulers – Republic Service and Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery – county supervisors voted 4-0 to pass an ordinance aimed at cracking down on illegal solid waste hauling activities in unincorporated parts of the East Bay County.

Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville left the board meeting before the vote because she had a medical appointment.

With “dozens” of unsanctioned truck drivers illegally hauling trash and, in most cases, illegally dumping their loads in unincorporated East or West county locations at public expense for appropriate removal and disposal, supervisors finally took the bold step to crack down on the illegal activity.

For obvious reasons no one spoke in opposition to the ordinance up for consideration at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting and, for that matter other than representatives for the two major waster haulers, no one from the general public spoke in favor of the ordinance too.

Even then the ordinance’s passage did not come easily.  Attorneys for Republic Service and Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery insisted on five last minute wording changes that supervisors agreed to in order to move forward the law that has been on the drawing boards for at least six years.

“This ordinance will be a tool for county code enforcement officers to use to clean up this illegal activity,” said Sal Evola, representing Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery.  “We’ve been attempting to put a stop to this illegal activity since 2011.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” concurred board vice chair Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, who played a key role in finally getting the ordinance passed.  “We’re basically telling illegal haulers that they will have to play by the same rules as the legal haulers.  We view this as an economic development issue.”

“East County is definitely affected by illegal dumping,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “This ordinance means the county is taking the appropriate steps to hold these people accountable.”

Beginning March 2018, the ordinance will be enforced mainly by the Contra Costa County Health Service Department.  The county Sheriff-Coroner Office and local police departments will play law enforcement roles.

The county ordinance spells out what is considered to be a solid waste hauler under terms of the law.  The ordinance establishes vehicle inspection procedures, annual permit renewal will be required every December, revocation procedures, setting liability insurance requirements with policy limits of $1 million per occurrence and $1 million aggregate, and requiring drivers to hold performance bonds.

The county ordinance requires permit holders to transport solid waste load and recycled waste to properly licensed solid waste and recycling facilities.

It is too early to tell how much revenue the county will generate from the new ordinance.

$2 Million Waste Clean-up Contract Approved

In other action, supervisors approved as a consent item a $2 million contract with Pacheco-based Debri-Tech Inc. to do trash and abandoned waste cleanup and removal for the Contra Costa County Watershed Program.  The contract with Debri-Tech has been doubled from $1 million because the contract has been extended two years rather than one year.

Supervisors gave the District Attorney’s Office the green light to apply for $1.2 million in state funding for the county’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program.  The funding will be spent from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.

In addition, supervisors approved the issuance of an additional $1.6 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee for the completion of the 58-family unit apartment development at 1515 and 1735 Riviera Ave. in Walnut Creek.  In March 2016, supervisors approved the $19.2 million development, but learned additional tax-exempt funds were needed to complete the construction.

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