Berkeley Council has Special Meeting Today to Discuss Controversial Solid Waste Proposal

Tuesday March 08, 2011 - 01:01:00 PM

Tonight at 5:30 the Berkeley City Council will take part in a special meeting in the council chambers in the Maudelle Shirek Building (Old City Hall) to discuss a controversial consultant’s report, the Sloan-Vasquez report on solid waste recycling 

Berkeley’s Ecology Center contends that the report “recommends, among other actions, that the City of Berkeley terminate the Ecology Center's curbside recycling program.” The center is marshalling friends and supporters to come to the meeting to oppose such an action. 

The report has also been condemned by the city of Berkeley’s Zero Waste Commission. On February 28 the Commission passed this resolution: 


"1. We, the Zero Waste Commission, perceive the Sloan Vasquez Report to be a Draft Report, having found incomplete and missing information, cost-benefit analyses, and a lack of an adequate and inclusive process. "2. The ZWC made strong efforts to ensure that the scope of the RFP for Division Assessment (Sloan Vasquez Contract) was based upon how best to achieve the City’s Zero Waste Goals while reducing the structural deficit and establishing sustainable revenue through a new rate structure. Instead, the recommendations address the existing structural deficit without adequate recycling-centered policy and cost-benefit analysis, including a review of non-core use of solid waste funds, eg: the Clean City Program. 

"3. We are extremely disappointed that the opportunity for a team approach was lost. While portions of the report may be useful and accurate, the process and lack of collaboration with City staff, the unions, and the City’s contractors brings the recommendations into question, particularly takeover of contractor functions.\ 

"4. We find that the labor-related cost analyses are incomplete and require further definition. 

"5. We have not been given supporting data documentation for review. Previous draft reports were withheld until the printed report was distributed to Council. No detail of the calculation is provided. The report contains errors and omissions that must be corrected in order to be finalized. 

"6. We find the report lacks any discussion of expanding recycling programs, and we believe several recommendations would seriously weaken the program, notably elimination of the Recycling Manager. Pending State and local regulations to establish universal multi-family and commercial recycling, and the staff and resources needed to comply, are not addressed. 

"7. We advise that the City Council mandate an inclusive review process with adequate time necessary for the consultant and management to meet with the Zero Waste Commission, staff, unions and contractors, to correct and supply data, create adequate cost comparative analyses, and address a sustainable rate structure." 


Other critics include the Sierra Club and WEBAIC (West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies), both of which have sent letters to the Council opposing the proposal.