Sanitation issues lead to unrest in the City of Milpitas

Shannon Bahr,

Emotions ran high on Jan. 16 during the Milpitas City Council meeting as more than 10 residents waited over three hours to voice their approval and disapproval to councilmembers about the newly contracted garbage services that went into effect as of Dec. 1, 2017 that some say is inadequate.

Resident’s time allotment to speak to the city council was restricted to one minute due to the amount of people who wished to speak, how late in the evening it became and the amount of time needed for other items to be addressed still left on the agenda.

Milpitas Sanitation was contracted to provide services for Milpitas after a thirty year contract with Republic Services, a waste disposal service, ended late last year. Some residents expressed their satisfaction with the new services, while other residents voiced their frustration with the new company, its split-bin dividers, sorting regulations, costs, implementation and lack of services compared to Republic.

Multiple residents said the garbage bin split divider significantly decreased the volume size of usable space inside the garbage bin, leaving an unreasonably large amount of unusable space for the food scraps side of the bin divide.

“If I brought my groceries home from the grocery store and dumped them straight in that can I could not fill it half full every week,” said Frank Phillips, a Milpitas resident since 1976. “That’s a waste of garbage space for everybody in this city. And I think we’re getting ripped off.”

Milpitas Sanitation charges a $3.75 tag per bag that does not fit in the garbage side of the bin divide. David DeRosa, a Milpitas resident, told the Milpitas Post, “Put a garbage bag on top of his full bin and watched the driver toss it aside. I’ve lived in Milpitas all my life, to throw garbage on the floor like that, it’s unacceptable, to me.”

Milpitas Sanitation provided a presentation to update the city council on the first month of service. During the presentation, Kelli Pellegrini from Milpitas Sanitation mentioned that they received 6011 customer service calls from Dec. 1 through Jan. 11.

One of three state-mandated regulations brought up during Milpitas Sanitation’s presentation was Regulation SB 1383. “Establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste from 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025.”

“Jurisdictions, haulers, and generators need to start taking actions to implement programs to be in compliance with the regulations on Jan. 1, 2022”.

Residents of Milpitas also took to Milpitas Sanitation’s Facebook page to express their disappointment. “I think they’re a rip off,” Kris Strauss posted Nov. 29, 2017. “Smaller trash and recycle bins which cost us more and we have to do more of the company’s work for them. Would like to have Republic back…”

“Read your reviews! Your greed is bullshit! Your company and what you stand for is a lie!” Brandon De Guia posted Jan. 5, 2017. “To have your workers leave the trash that doesn’t fit in your Barbie size trash cans on the road shows how lazy and money driven your company is. Why even give us cans at all?”

“Why did they split the cans if it all gets dumped into the same truck? All it does is make a mess when they’re trying to empty them,” Robert Azdar DeLuna posted Dec. 10, 2017. “Two weeks in a row I have trash all over the street. Bad move Milpitas.”

The mayor of the city even weighed in on the issue. “If there’s going to be some waste falling out of the bin and hitting the ground Milpitas Sanitation will understand that they will need to rectify the situation,” Milpitas mayor Rich Tran told The Pioneer. “Whether it be hopping out the garbage truck or having additional staff to do a more thorough review of the waste collection in the streets. Working constructively to resolve this issue and I think it is a concern from the residents that Milpitas sanitation also feels strongly about. I think that with each passing day were going to get better at this as a community.”