City Attorney Jan Goldsmith released a privatization proposal today that he says would save the city $34 million annually by eliminating its trash collection services.

The plan, which would require a voter-approved charter amendment, essentially sidesteps the 90-year-old city law that now prohibits the city from charging single-family homeowners for trash collection.

Instead of changing the law, known as The People’s Ordinance, Goldsmith’s plan would allow the city to eliminate its trash department and stop spending the $34 million it does annually to pay for single-family residential trash collection.

Private haulers would instead collect city trash, a process Goldsmith said would be governed by state franchise rules. Private haulers, too, would collect fees for trash collection. Goldsmith said the city could mandate residents be charged no more than the average cost in the county.

The plan means in effect city residents who don’t pay the city for trash collection now would pay a private company for the service.

Goldsmith released his plan three weeks before an Aug. 6 deadline to place items on November’s ballot and the same week that comprehensive financial reform discussions led by Mayor Jerry Sanders failed. Goldsmith, who briefed Sanders and some council members this week on his plan, has said timing would make it difficult to put a proposal on the ballot. Further complicating matters is that Goldsmith said the proposal would require labor negotiations prior to it appearing on the ballot.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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