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Free garbage pick-up in San Diego could be 'trashed' this November

Voters will decide whether to change a 100-year-old law requiring the city to pick-up trash for free at single-family homes.

SAN DIEGO — Voters this fall will decide whether to change a San Diego law requiring the city to pick up trash for free at local homes

In a 7-2 vote by San Diego City Council, the ordinance will now head to the ballots in November and voters themselves will vote yes or no to changing the law.

What the city of San Diego is talking about is a 100-year-old ordinance that prohibits the city from charging most single-family residences for trash collection services while those living in apartments and condos must pay a private hauler.

If you're a single-family home owner in the city of San Diego, you probably haven't had to worry about paying for trash services, but come this November you could be dealing with another bill on your plate. 

“It sucks, I don’t want it,” said Josh Vargas, a Kearny Mesa local who is struggling to pay his bills.

The reason is because the city of San Diego voted to put a ballot measure that amends the people’s ordinance—a law that was created in 1919 and prohibits the city from recovering costs it incurs from trash collection.

“It just seems like they want more, more, more, but yet wages aren’t getting any higher and cost of living is outrageous here in San Diego,” said Kim Fenin, who is also a Kearny Mesa local and believes the city continues to add additional fees. 

Property owners against changing the law criticize the city for trying to push for it during a time when property taxes have skyrocketed and residents are grappling with high gas prices and historic inflation. 

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera who supports the law to be changed announced that having a prohibition in place has brought a hit to the city’s general fund.

“What we are really asking for, is to remove the prohibition on covering costs,” said Elo-Rivera.

According to San Diego's independent budget analyst, the city pays nearly $44 million to collect trash from single-family homes each year.

“The general fund is going to take a hit of around $50 million this year, overall it cost the city $70 million,” said President council member Elo-Rivera.

If passed, it would bring the city the flexibility to invest in additional public services as the money would go into the general fund, and help streamline and improve current trash services–plus equity for home owners and renters.

“It’s the only service that the city offers that is conferred to some residents and not others,” said President council member Elo-Rivera.

CBS 8 asked Elo-Rivera how fast would San Diego home owners see a fee if it’s passed. He explained that there are still several steps after voting for it.

“I would imagine that with the course of 2023, we have a really robust conversation of what services folks want, do they want a weekly recycling, do they want a bulky pick-up, we have that conversation and at that point we will have what’s called a cost of service study,” said President council member Elo-Rivera.

If the city begins charging for trash pick-up, that fee will be directly tied to the service residents want. 

WATCH RELATED: November ballot starts taking shape in San Diego (June 2022).


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