Ballot measure to charge single-family homes in San Diego for city trash collection sparks debate in La Jolla


San Diegan residents are being asked to vote in the Nov. 8 election on approving Measure B, which would allow the city to begin charging single-family homeowners for garbage collection. The La Jolla City Council heard arguments for and against the measure during its Oct. 13 meeting online and at the La Jolla Recreation Center.

Measure B would change the “people’s ordinance,” which voters approved in 1919 to have the city collect trash from residences without charging landlords.

The ordinance was updated in the 1980s to prohibit the city from accessing private property such as apartment complexes to avoid exposure to liability. Thus, occupants of condominiums, apartments or single-family homes on private streets must pay for garbage collection by private carriers, just like businesses.

San Diego Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said he was among council members who pushed for Measure B to appear on the ballot.

“The people’s order,” LaCava said, is outdated because the city is now a “very different place.”

San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava speaks during the La Jolla City Council meeting on October 13.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

The current ordinance also creates inequities, he said, because those who own a single-family home on a public street pay property tax and have their trash picked up at no extra charge, but those who own a condo or commercial property or live on a private street also pay property tax but must pay extra for garbage collection.

“Everyone really should be treated the same,” LaCava said. “What we’re trying to do is level the playing field.”

Measure B “will open up a conversation about what we could do differently from what we are doing now,” he added.

Haney Hong, President and CEO of San Diego County Ratepayers Associationsaid “we agree that the system has to change”.

“Measurement B, however, is not the right way to change it,” Hong said. He added that the taxpayers’ association recommends voting against the measure.

“Waste is partly a public good, partly a private good,” Hong said. Everyone who pays property taxes has already “paid for some of the infrastructure”, such as landfill maintenance, whether or not they also pay for private collection, he said.

Everyone who pays property taxes “should get a certain amount of garbage collected at no extra cost,” Hong said. The association recommends that the city implement a “pay as you throw away” fee system for the volume of waste above a fixed amount granted to all.

LaCava said having single-family homeowners pay for garbage collection through Measure B would save the city the $45 million a year it spends collecting garbage from single-family homes.

“Imagine what we could do with that money in the future,” he said.

An independent budget analysis estimated that each household would pay $23 to $29 per month for garbage collection, but LaCava added that the city will want to hear from ratepayers on whether to adjust rates based on the amount of garbage generated. by a household.

Passing Measure B would also allow for discussion of how to approach low-income people for whom paying for garbage collection could be a significant burden, LaCava said.

Hong, however, said that “if we want to reduce costs and get maximum value, it’s really important for the city to make this system competitive.”

“Measure B as written actually prevents competition because if you look at the language … only city employees can do this job,” he said.

If Measure B passes, LaCava said, the city will have to “do a study, get public input, and decide what we want to do.”

The city council would then vote on the details of rates and services, he said. It provides that any changes to the current order will not come into force until 2024.

Other chatter

La Jolla Village has 41 trash cans, emptied daily by the Maintenance Assessment District.

La Jolla Village has 41 trash cans, emptied daily by the Maintenance Assessment District.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

Mary Montgomery, manager of the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District under the non-profit organization Enhance La Jolla, described what MAD does in terms of waste.

MAD’s coverage area has 41 bins within the Village boundaries, which are emptied daily by MAD vendors, Montgomery said.

“We are doing our best to support the city’s efforts,” she said. “I like to think we’re having a positive impact, because every time I walk through The Village, there’s rarely an overflowing trash can.”

Next meeting : The La Jolla City Council will then meet at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, November 10, online and at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St. For more information, visit


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