There was a whole lot of trash talk at last night’s Newport Beach City Council meeting. In fact, it dominated the better part of the hour-long session, held at a half-empty room inside 100 Civic Center Drive as a slight drizzle pitter-pattered against the windows.
A new agreement for refuse container collection in Newport Beach, currently held by Roberts Waste & Recycling, Inc. was set to be reinstated, despite a second bidder—Ware Disposal Co., Inc.—submitting a competing contract that was $35,000 cheaper or, compounded over the five-year length of the agreement, $175,000 less.
The total amount for the new Roberts contract, if agreed to, would be $2,025,000, prompting a budget amendment to increase expenditure appropriations by $100,000 from the General Fund balance into “Field Maintenance, Beach Trash Can Collection.” It was unclear if the lower-costing Ware contract would prompt a similar expenditure increase.
According to City Staff, the reason for the recommendation to reinstate Roberts was all about the quality of Roberts’ new contract, which detailed the project approach methodology and technical aspects of the equipment that would be employed to keep Newport Beach clean.
Apparently, the Ware contract didn’t demonstrate a clear understanding as to where the trash was to be delivered and there were, as City Staff described, “a number of holes.”
Neither Roberts nor Ware sent a company representative to the meeting but an attendee who identified himself as Jim Mosier stood up to speak: “I have my doubts about how great this incumbent is,” he said, explaining that he frequently finds trash in Mariner’s Park, which falls under Roberts’ current collection purview.
“I personally don’t care for these particular trash cans,” said City Councilwoman Diane Dixon, though offered no elaboration as to why their aesthetic quality was displeasing. Dixon then launched into a series of probing questions for City Staff: “What are we getting in this proposed contract? If we have issues related to the quality of service, are we getting what we’re paying for? I want further clarification on the quality of service.”
Added City Councilman Brad Avery: “It’s a small item and it’s not in a way. I’d at least like to see a revisit. I’m not clear why the one would be disqualified.”
Newport Beach City Councilman Jeff Herdman was complimentary of the current collection company. “Robert has done a very consistent, good job in picking up trash on the [Balboa] Island,” he stated.
In contrast to Herdman’s lukewarm accolades, Dixon was by far the most outspoken advocate for a revisit of the two contracts and proposed a motion to table the agreement until further clarification could be offered. The motion was put to a vote and unanimously passed, 7-0. The existing contract would be extended by three weeks during this discovery.
Under fire from Dixon’s questioning, City Staff members conceded that Roberts gets behind on heavy collection days—a Monday in summertime, for instance—and does a decent job collecting around high-traffic areas like the piers and Pacific Coast Highway. Overall, City Staff rated Roberts a “B” for service.
Quickly, and without hesitation, Dixon countered: “We deserve A.”