trash pick up san diego
A side-loader city of San Diego sanitation truck collects trash in a residential area in North Park on Dec. 23, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Bill Walton has stirred things up.

As we reported last week, the NBA legend flooded San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s inbox with harsh messages on the state of homelessness.

Within the emails, Walton says he was attacked, that unhoused folks have become more destructive and that Gloria should resign for his failure to curb the crisis.

This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña discuss the backlash from this public plea — and how local boosters, residents and news outlets have responded.

Some Trash Talk

Ahead of the November election, San Diego City Council candidates are taking stands on an upcoming ballot measure that would would allow the city to study and eventually implement a special fee for trash collection.

On the pod, Lewis, Keatts and Lopez-Villafaña discussed about where candidates stand, how it could be a new, divisive feature of local politics and probed some of the touchy terms that get thrown around on this issue: “trash fee” vs. “trash tax” vs. the aforementioned Measure B — which some argue would totally not create a trash fee (and isn’t a fee!) but would allow the distinct possibility and likelihood of creating fee to fund the pick up of trash.

And trash money is a big deal. Because the state-mandated food waste recycling program is almost here.

It’ll be one full year behind schedule, but the city of San Diego is slated to unleash its food recycling services by January 2023. As Voice environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer laid out in our super cool Whatever Happened To series, the goal of this program was to lessen the greenhouse gases emitted by that romaine lettuce you always buy from Trader Joe’s but never eat.

But recycling ain’t cheap. San Diego is the only California city that doesn’t charge a special fee to pickup trash (to single family homes) and updating that system to one that generates revenue for the city could help balance the books when it comes to all this trash politics.

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Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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  1. I dont know why folks always point out homless is all over the state. Therefore, were victim’s of circumstances. These are the Mayors that ran on making progress. Its allowing drug and mental illness to go unchecked, its not about housing.
    Nobody covering the hotel money buyouts at the tune of 22 Million. They always talk about the problem and talk about it again. Where is the annual budget spent on homless and what has been acomplished. This is not 1932 and the Great Depression. Its not a complex problem. Its the state, cities and counties in actions to bring back state facilities or hospitals to handle mental illness. Polices what people voted for, unfortunately they got what they wanted.

    1. Seems like a vast “homelessness response theories” industry has been created. There are no measures of success, just a lot of “experts” taking a lot of taxpayer money. Meanwhile the boring old NGO’s like Father Joes and the Food Bank are the only ones who give us some bang for the buck.

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