People in county still complaining about Board of Supervisor’s trash franchise deal – don’t be left out of the discussion about Chico’s deal

25 May

In today’s Enterprise Record a letter writer complains about the new garbage franchise deal rolled out by Butte County last month.

Butte County residents were told this new contract between waste providers and the Butte County Board of Supervisors would be beneficial both environmentally and in road wear and tear. We were also assured prices and services would stay consistent, despite our choice as consumers being stripped.

Not surprisingly, our lack of choice has created the ideal situation for Waste Management to do what they please.

The issues began with our first bill — environmental and administrative fees were tacked on. At first they tried to placate individuals but with more and more complaints, they finally started crediting everyone’s accounts. Waste Management also wanted the right to use my long driveway, despite the fact that they wouldn’t be picking up my trash while they were up there. What?

The most current issue is Waste Management has decided to discontinue recycling services to the rural areas of their district, namely Cohasset. As the landfill isn’t getting any smaller, it’s hard to believe this idea is favorable for anyone. My bill was to cover trash and recycling.

I was incredibly happy with my choice in years of service from a local company, and am now incredibly dissatisfied with my forced use of a substandard corporation. At what point will the Board of Supervisors begin making decisions that are in the best interest of Butte County residents?

— Rebecca Finn, Cohasset

This echoes complaints I read about in the Forest Ranch newspaper, as confirmed by County Administrative Officer Paul Hahn at the Local Government Committee meeting earlier this month. Hahn  said they had “phones ringing off the hook” with complaints for over a week.

Hahn and other staff members also confirmed that most of their problems were with Waste Management. Hahn advised Chico City Manager Mark Orme that WM does not even have a call center in California. How could they possibly deal with complaints about billing and service, or lack thereof, from out of state? Hahn said even he was given the runaround when he tried to call WM on the phone.

Orme keeps answering questions about Chico’s deal with “it’s still in negotiation,” even though he has also said he expects to have the deal in place by July. When I pressed him about whether Chicoans would have mandatory service, he would only say “that’s the way they do it in many other municipalities…”  He also made it very clear this deal is to get revenues for the city of Chico, they’ve completely dropped that bullshit about wanting to do any “right thing.” Mark Orme will tell you, the right thing for rate payers to do is shut up and continue to pay for these onerous pensions.

The county staffers also said they had a lot of problems with private easements. A private easement is a road that is on one or more people’s private property, used by folks who live along it by agreement with the owner. There is oftentimes a written agreement in the deeds to the connected properties that the easement is used for “ingress and egress” of the appointed residents, and also any utility companies that have property like phone or electric poles installed on the easement.

Trash trucks are usually not included in easement agreements. Trash trucks, according to, weigh about 64,000 pounds, or “32 short tons”. Compare that to your average family SUV, weighing in at about 4300 pounds, or just over two tons. Trash trucks, especially when driven at high speeds, literally trash roads, even paved roads. That was part of the conversation regarding the Chico trash deal – former City Mangler Brian Nakamura said the city would get all this extra money out of the haulers to fix our streets. Ex city staffer Fritz McKinley confirmed at a meeting shortly before he was canned that trash trucks were responsible for a lot of the damage to our roads. But, for years the city has allowed the haulers to use bigger and bigger trash trucks without charging them a big enough franchise fee to cover the damage. You see and feel the results all over town.

The problem with private easements is that neither the hauler nor the city (nor the county) will take responsibility for the damage, the property owner is left to deal with the enormous gouges and sinkholes left by these behemoths as they speed in, beep-beep-beep their U-turn, then roar back out onto the public street, leaving a big old crevice where the dirt/gravel private driveway meets the crumbling asphalt of the public right-of-way.

This is the same with city owned alleys. 

County staffer Bill Mannel told the assemblage at  the Local Gov Comm that the county is not allowed to use any road funds to repair private property, so they couldn’t force these people to allow the trucks onto their private driveway. This may mean that others along that private drive can’t get front door service, are forced to take their trash out onto the public right-of-way, leaving it all night because we never know what time the haulers will show up the next day.

This is a problem all over Chico, but Orme seemed completely oblivious when I brought it up. He doesn’t care, all he cares about is getting money to pay the salaries and CalPERS payments. We have at least a $64,000,000 pension deficit, and CalPERS wants that money.

Pay attention to this conversation – don’t be like the dummies in Forest Ranch, who all showed up to bitch and moan after the deal was already done. Write to Orme, express your concerns NOW.


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