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Council Opts to Send Out New Bid for Recycling

By Judith Scherr
Friday December 21, 2007

The City Council voted Tuesday to go out anew to the garbage/recycling industry to offer bidding on a contract that would include recycling 25,000 tons of rubbish that now goes into landfills. 

At the meeting, the council also outlined the possible content of a revised Condominium Conver-sion Ordinance, decided that the Landmarks Preservation Ordi-nance would go on the ballot in November 2008, deferred payment of city fees for a developer building condominiums at 1800 San Pablo Ave., questioned the Public Works Department about mistakes made in dredging Aquatic Park and heard presentations from a commission that developed a draft downtown plan. 


Recycle contract 

The council voted 5-3 to send a contract back out to bid that includes both recycling and dumping rubbish into a landfill, with Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak voting in opposition and Councilmember Max Anderson absent. 

In an earlier 8-0-1 vote, with councilmember Betty Olds abstaining, the council approved separate contracts with Waste Management and Allied Waste to dispose of city garbage in their landfills. These companies will take up the slack, disposing of the garbage while the contract that includes recycling is being rebid. 

A contract for recycling 25,000 tons of debris was originally awarded to East Stockton Recycling, but drew a host of criticisms from the public and council.  

Councilmember Darryl Moore questioned Peter Holtzclaw, manager of the Division of Solid Waste and Recycling, about the original bid process. The purchasing department used a postcard—mail which Moore said could be overlooked—to send out information alerting potential contractors to the Request for Proposals. 

Holtzclaw responded that the Alameda County Waste Authority, while it didn’t call for reopening the process, suggested that next time they should send out the full RFP.  

Calling the process “seriously flawed,” Councilmember Kriss Worthington said, “Both the Sierra Club and the Teamsters overwhelmingly oppose the contract.” 

Retired Secretary-Treasurer Teamsters Union Local No. 70 Chuck Mack wrote the council, encouraging it to reissue the RFP: “We don’t believe there was proper notice on the original RFP and as a result employers with whom we have collective bargaining agreements did not submit a proposal. Before an action of this type is taken, all parties should have an opportunity to bid and all view points an opportunity to be considered.” 

However, Councilmember Gordon Wozniak asked his colleagues to move ahead with the East Stockton contract. “It will cost us $1 million [recycling is more expensive than dumping in a landfill], but people feel better knowing the garbage doesn’t go to a landfill,” he said. 

Arthur Boone, conservation chair of the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra Club said his organization opposed the contract with East Stockton, especially because of the distance trucks would travel to reach the site where they would recycle the garbage. 

Dan Knapp, president of Urban Ore, called on the city to “rearrange the furniture”--do a temporary quick moving around of functions at the transfer station to give recyclers greater access to materials that come in and are reusable or recyclable. Certain materials should be banned from the transfer station and taken directly off trucks, including paper, metal and cardboard, he said.  

A design charrette is planned for January to look at possible quick, low-cost changes to the facility. A thorough remodel would cost more than $15 million; Mary Lou Van Deventer of Urban Ore told the Planet last week. 


Condominium conversion 

The council voted 8-0 on a number of possible revisions to the Condominium Conversion Ordinance, including a streamlined process for conversion, mandating code compliance for the property owner only for visible health and safety issues and possible fee changes. 

Staff will rewrite the ordinance, with possible fee changes, and bring it back to the council next year. 

Councilmember Dona Spring severed the question of reducing fees from the main motion. In a 7-1 vote, with Spring in opposition, the council voted to have staff explore various fee reductions.  

Spring said the 12.5 percent fee, with various exceptions including those for tenants buying the unit in which they live, was reasonable, while property owners, at last week’s condo conversion workshop had said the fee is onerous and prevents people from converting their units. 

Currently, the property owner must bring all defects up to code in the unit to be converted, including work that may have been done without permits. Property owners told the council last week that this caused them to do unnecessary work, such as moving a toilet two inches for strict code compliance.  

Planning Director Dan Marks pointed out that some serious health and safety issues could be out of sight, such as faulty wiring, but Bates underscored that the ordinance should addresses “visible health and safety issues.” 


Aquatic Park 

Even after hearing a report from the public works staff and asking questions, some City Council members said they continued to have questions about the contaminated soil dredged from the Aquatic Park lagoon and about the Nov. 5-7 dredging that was done without proper Regional Water Quality Control Board approvals. 

With Councilmember Gordon Wozniak abstaining, the council voted 7-0, to consider the six-page staff report and accompanying 63-page lab analysis of the dredged spoils. As City Clerk Pamyla Means reminded the council, a two-thirds vote is required to consider material delivered on the day of the council meeting. 

On Thursday, Kamlarz told the Planet that the city accepted responsibility for the problems with the dredging and that council would be asked to more formally accept the report—and possible new expenses—in March, when the dredging plan would have been approved by the water board. 

At the meeting, Coucilmember Darryl Moore asked if the toxics division had analyzed the lab report, and was told it had not. Moore requested a follow-up report by the city’s toxics division. 

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak wanted to know what the delay would cost the city – the project will resume in May, after approvals are in place and the rainy season is finished.  


Deferring Fees 

The council voted unanimously, with Anderson absent, to defer city fees on a 51-unit condominium development at 1800 San Pablo Ave. with the sewer fee paid before any sewers are hooked up. Deferred are $315,588 that includes $99,990 in sewer connection fees. 


The developer Said Adeli “faces losing a considerable investment he has made in predevelopment expenses if he cannot pull a building permit and quickly get under construction,” the staff report said. 


The project is expected to generate $1.1 million in in-lieu fees in lieu of providing inclusionary units. 



Downtown Plan 

A two-hour presentation on the downtown plan was mostly a love-fest with members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee talking about the compromises they entered into, after two years of work. For example, some members of the committee talked about accepting in the plan a number of high-rise buildings including two new hotels that would be as high as 20 stories, in exchange for a promise that developer fees would fund more low-income housing downtown. 

However, it because clear that a group of committee members disapproved altogether of the limits on building heights, saying that developers would not build unless they could maximize their profit. 

The Planning Commission will take up the Downtown Plan in February.