Working Partner Update: Zero Waste San Diego

Date: 17 May 2018 | posted in: waste - zero waste, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Zero Waste San Diego calls our attention to the effort in San Diego, CA to adjust the City Ordinance that prohibits the city from charging for residential waste collection services.The law thus “precludes the creation of the industry standard ‘pay as you throw’ financial incentives for recycling and waste reduction’. A waste-based fee “would free up millions of dollars of general fund revenues.”  See below for rationale and strategy of the campaign to change the rules:

Campaign to Repeal the People’s Ordinance, San Diego Municipal Code §66.0127

Give the people what they want, a clean environment and sustainable future

Our objective is to generate hundreds of phone calls and emails to City Council members between now and the June Rules Committee Meeting, with the goal of convincing the Rules Committee to put on the November ballot our measure to repeal San Diego Municipal Code §66.0127.

Please contact your council-member as well as and focus on these members of the Rules Committee and ask for this issue to become a ballot measure in November.

Myrtle Cole (Chair) , Mark Kersey (Vice Chair), Barbara Bry  Chris Ward  Chris Cate
What is San Diego Municipal Code §66.0127 so called the “1919 People’s Ordinance”?

  • Originally enacted in 1919, the so-called People’s Ordinance allowed the city to take over food waste and trash collection from a private company that sold it to pig farmers. It was amended in 1986 to prohibit the city from imposing a fee for trash hauling service and requires the City to provide collection, transportation and disposal of residential refuse, which includes trash, recyclables and yard trimmings, at no cost.
  • This Ordinance only applies to single-family households who put their bins on public streets — not multi-unit buildings, businesses or commercial establishments — and requires $47 million from the General Fund to operate.
  • Twenty-three percent of the city’s trash is collected from about half of the city’s households because of this Ordinance.
Why does the ordinance need to be repealed?
  • The City’s inability to charge for residential refuse collection precludes the creation of the industry standard “pay as you throw” financial incentives for recycling and waste reduction.  Simply stated, polluters should have to pay. A rate-based fee would free up millions of dollars of general fund revenues. The City needs a dedicated and sustainable revenue stream for waste management/reduction
  • The current ordinance fails to generate enough revenue to: (1) adequately meet the requirements of existing waste reduction mandates from the City’s own Climate Action Plan and Zero Waste Plan and (2) roll out new programs mandated by the State of California to reduce organics and edible food sent to the landfill.
  • The current ordinance is unfair — with half of the City’s residents effectively paying twice for the same service… (they must pay privately for companies to pick up waste from their apartments/condos, and then again through taxation to subsidize those households that don’t pay to pollute).


As of mid-2016, when the League of Women Voters addressed the City Council’s Rules Committee, the following entities were in favor of overhauling the ordinance: League of Women Voters of San Diego, The Grand Jury, Countywide Integrated Waste Management Citizens Advisory Committee, Zero Waste San Diego, The (former) City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, The Stakeholder’s Plan contracted by the City Council, The San Diego Taxpayers Association, San Diego County Apartment Association, Nick Lapis.

Photo Credit: 12019 via Pixabay (CC0).

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.