Editor’s note: The Mendocino Voice will follow this story and follow up as it develops. The special meeting will be held tonight, and we’ll update after that.
FORT BRAGG, 1/27/21 – The Fort Bragg City Council is set to vote Wednesday night on whether to switch to a different garbage collection contractor for city residents, with C&S Waste Solutions already having negotiated a lease option at an undisclosed location south of Fort Bragg. For the unincorporated areas around Fort Bragg, from Cleone to Albion, an entirely different process is underway with Mendocino County expecting three different contractors to bid on trash collection for those areas and unincorporated areas around Ukiah now also served by a different Waste Management contract.
Both Waste Management contracts expire at the end of June, other companies collect the trash around Willits, Leggett, Westport, Boonville, on the South Coast and in the cities of Ukiah and Willits and have separate contracts, which are not currently being discussed.
The City of Fort Bragg vote, needing to be decided because of the short time frame needed to switch companies on the Coast before the current contract with Waste Management ends on June 30, is on the agenda at the Wednesday, Jan. 27 special meeting at 5 p.m, to be held remotely by Zoom.
C&S has offered to step into the Waste Management contract, meaning rates likely wouldn’t change much if at all for city residents, depending on what action is taken Wednesday afternoon. C&S Waste Solutions has a lease option for 5 acres and an industrial bay at the undisclosed location, with the option to lease another 6 acres in the future, said a city staff report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting.
The plan before the council would waive the current requirement to maintain an office, yard and recycling center within the city limits and provides that a coastal facility near the city will meet the terms.
C&S, which already collects the trash in the city of Ukiah, has also committed to hire Waste Management employees who meet their criteria if the deal goes through should that become necessary. The address of the possible new facility to be leased and the name of the landlord of that property has been redacted in city documents. Just last month, the city had appeared to be all ready to sign up with Waste Management again and had even passed a resolution promising to negotiate with them for the renewal of the garbage contract. Then, an item came back on the Fort Bragg City Council consent agenda changing the language to say that negotiations with Waste Management would not be exclusive. The city then began to look for a second bidder.
“After the City Council Special Meeting on December 22, 2020, where the Council approved the letter to Waste Management indicating that negotiations would not be exclusive, the City Manager reached out to C&S Waste Solutions, based in Ukiah, to inquire about whether they would be interested in discussing the Solid Waste Franchise Agreement,” a staff report to be presented to the council Wednesday by City Manager Tabatha Miller said. Things happened fast. By Jan. 6, the C&S had signed a lease option agreement to use an undisclosed location on the Coast. C&S can also simply non option the lease, depending on how the council vote goes.
The report details that the city must act quickly if it wishes to change garbage providers. The county is taking more time and has more options for its contract, which is simultaneous with the city’s but is an entirely different process.
The city staff report said the challenge with making a switch, should that be the decision, was “having sufficient time to establish a local facility, purchase the trucks and other equipment necessary to establish an operation on the coast, and hire staff. Six months is considered the time typically needed to make such a transition. On January 31, five months will remain before the Waste Management Agreement expires,” the staff report states.
The city has been working furiously behind the scenes to make this happen.
“The City Council Ad Hoc Solid Waste Franchise Committee (Mayor Bernie Norvell and Councilmember Linday Peters) and City Manager Miller met with representatives of C&S Waste on December 31, 2020. A key aspect of that conversation was the time necessary to transition to a new provider. There was agreement between the parties that if the City was interested in changing providers, that decision would need to be made before the end of January 2021.”
Hence Wednesday’’s meeting, with a decision to be made that will impact Fort Bragg residents for many years to come, as the discussion is about a 10 year garbage contract with C&S. City council members and staff have spent the last few weeks checking into the services already provided by C&S.
“Each Councilmember has toured the C&S facility in Ukiah. The facility includes the large Material Recovery Facility (MRF) which can process commingled paper, aluminum,…plastics, glass, cans and cardboard. The facility also houses the green and wood waste processing facility. Both operations have the capacity to add the City of Fort Bragg to their processing. C&S also operates transfer stations in Ukiah and Lake County. Staff has checked references with each of those jurisdictions and were provided strong reviews,” the staff report states.
What about the unincorporated areas?
County supervisors will wait until March to pick a new provider for the unincorporated areas around Fort Bragg and Ukiah, the contract for which expires at the same time as the city contract. Howard Dashiell, Mendocino County’s director of Transportation, said the county has heard it will get three bids for the Request for Proposals it currently has out They expect to get bids from C&S, Solid Waste of Willits and Waste Management. The county’s Request for Proposals to get bids for the trash collection services on Coastal areas from Cleone to Albion and around Ukiah opened on Tuesday, Jan. 26 and closes March 12. It can be seen here: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/home/showpublisheddocument?id=40133 On the Coast, Waste Management covers the area from south of Westport to Albion, Dashiell said.
It was unclear why the city and county processes were moving at such different paces. Dashiell said he was working through the RFP process and couldn’t speak for what the city was doing.
Councilperson Lindy Peters said the city had also met with Solid Waste of Willits and remained open to all the different proposals at Wednesday’s meeting. C&S has said it needs to get going before the end of January, hence the meeting. Peters said C&S could pick up the trash from Ukiah if they had to at the start of the contract. “The carbon footprint wouldn’t be very good but they could do that if they had to.” He said the company would have all new trucks for Coast pickup if they get the contract.
He said they had showed up in Uiah unannounced and were impressed at how clean and well run the operation in Ukiah worked. They have also said they would have all new trucks for the Coast contract.
Who is C&S?
C&S Waste Solutions (C&S), based in Ukiah, is a group of companies with more than 20 years of experience in Northern California. The group of companies provide integrated waste services, including collection, transfer and disposal, recyclable collection and processing, green and wood waste collection and processing, landfill operations, sanitation services and scrap metal purchasing and marketing. They also have presence in southern Nevada. Locally, C&S currently provides services to the City of Ukiah, Lake County and Clearlake.
“Staff has checked references with each of those jurisdictions and were provided strong reviews.” Positive references from the City of Ukiah and the City of Clearlake are included in the packet.
“Additionally, staff spent approximately 50 minutes in a phone conversation with staff from Lake County inquiring about the level of services provided by C&S and the County staff’s relationship with C&S. The responses received were very positive but also provided honest feedback. Consistent in both the discussions with Lake County and the response from the City of Ukiah is the strong support provided by C&S to those jurisdictions for compliance with the state mandated diversion programs,” the staff report states.
How will this impact the Pudding Creek Waste Management facility?
“The City Council Ad Hoc Solid Waste Franchise Committee was concerned for loss of employment by Waste Management employees laid off as a result of the transition. C&S has committed to hiring all displaced Waste Management employees essential to the Fort Bragg operations that meet their hiring criteria. C&S provided a list of the current Employee Benefit Package and will honor seniority dates for current Waste Management. employees,” the city staff report said. The staff report gives no reason for the change from Waste Management to C&S, but does mention retroactive increases, which have been very unpopular locally.
Waste Management currently delivers trash and recycling collected in the City of Fort Bragg and surrounding unincorporated areas of Mendocino County to the Willits Transfer Station. Solid Waste of Willits sets the rates for disposal of trash at its facility. Those rates are factored into the rates WM customers are charged, said Paul T. Rosynsky, Communications Specialist, Northern California/Nevada for Waste Management.