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Politics & Policy

Recology pulls plug on ballot measure after threat of losing SF trash monopoly

Trash-hauling giant Recology is backing down on its effort to undercut reforms to the rate-setting process for garbage in San Francisco after several members of the Board of Supervisors threatened to put a nuclear option to voters that would put the company’s decades-old monopoly at risk.

The Standard has learned that Recology stopped gathering signatures Thursday to place a measure on the June ballot, which would have included some—but not all—of the reforms being proposed by city officials. This means a moderate reform package will likely be the measure put before voters this summer instead of a more aggressive option.

The goal of the moderate reform proposal drafted by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Mayor London Breed, which has support from all other supervisors, will attempt to close shortcomings in the rate-setting process exposed by the corruption scandal involving former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru.

Recology stunned city officials last month when the firm pulled out of negotiations over Peskin’s moderate proposal and submitted its own watered-down version of the measure.

In response, Peskin put forward an even more aggressive option that would have put Recology’s lucrative trash monopoly at risk by allowing other companies to bid for collection permits in San Francisco. He will no longer move forward with the nuclear option.

“I’m sorry that Recology chose to go down this road,” Peskin told The Standard. “I am pleased that they have come to their senses and look forward to passing a consensus reform initiative for the benefit of San Francisco’s ratepayers.”

Recology spokesperson Robert Reed confirmed the company abandoned its ballot measure in a statement to The Standard.

“As a sign of good faith and our desire to reach consensus, we have pulled our ballot measure and are focusing on discussions with the City,” Reed said.

While the ballot measure fight appears to have cooled, the Controller’s Office is still investigating potential over-billing by Recology. In November, the office sent a letter to the company requesting detailed financial records to see if the company improperly charged ratepayers beyond the $94.5 million settlement the firm agreed to refund ratepayers last March.