The proposed 2023 Solid Waste Collection rates are... garbage.

Just received the City of San Mateo's 2023 Proposed Solid Waste Rates, and well... it's terrible.  We work VERY hard to minimize our waste, and to make sure that San Mateo has a community resource (our store!) to help others do the same. Yet the proposed pricing structure will increase rates marginally for those households who have massive garbage cans, and will increase my rates by 20%?!  What the HECK?!  Why do I work so hard if it's literally going to cost me MORE to haul away LESS garbage?

We've got to say something about this, and get City Council to think differently here.  There is a public hearing on Monday, November 21.  That's the Monday before Thanksgiving, so I don't anticipate many people being able to join the meeting in person... but a written protest will be logged and counted if submitted before then.

See below for a letter to the City Council that I penned.  Feel free to take it and use as you see fit - we need to tell them that we need a more equitable, impactful proposal to show that they actually care about waste reduction!  Recology customers and property owners are able to submit a WRITTEN (not email) protest to the City Council and deliver it either in person or via US Mail before the scheduled meeting on Monday, November 21.  Want to drop it off at the store? I'll even deliver them to City Hall on your behalf and save you the stamp. 

Thanks for all you do to help San Mateo steer in the right direction, and to reduce our collective impact where we can.  Our community is amazing!


October 11, 2022

Dear City Councilmembers,

Today I received the Notice of Public Hearing for the 2023 Solid Waste Rates, and this proposal is unacceptable. The proposed increases are regressive charges, penalizing those who use the services the least while allowing those who generate the most waste to see increases well below inflation. Additionally, the rate structure as it stands now doesn’t address the issue of pollution and waste management in a way that will drive meaningful reductions.

There are residents and businesses who work very diligently to avoid waste and to ensure that we reduce our impact through our buying choices. Through that hard work, these residents and businesses are able to use the smallest carts and contribute the least to the landfill… but the proposals are suggesting that our monthly bills will be increased by over 20% in 2023. On the other hand, those who generate the most waste are receiving either 2% (residential) or 0% (commercial) increases, much lower than inflation. Small businesses and diligent individuals should not shoulder the increased costs of those who generate more of the problem.

The new proposal would result in residential waste hauling costs of:
$1.18/gallon for those generating the least waste, an increase of 20.4%!
$0.92 / gallon for those who generate the most waste, an increase of 2.3%.

And commercial waste hauling costs of:
$1.27/gallon for those generating the least waste, an increase of 8.5%!
$0.98 / gallon for those who generate the most waste, no increase.

As it’s known that more affluent households generate more waste, this proposal seems to counter Councilmembers’ stated objectives of more equitable treatment of residents. Additionally, smaller businesses will be hit harder by these rate increases than larger businesses. It stands to reason that the most effective way to get residents and businesses alike to reduce solid waste would be to make it more costly to generate the excess waste and have someone haul it "away".

I urge the Council to consider using a pricing structure similar to CalWater. That pricing structure is more equitable by providing a base level of service for all residents and businesses, and increasing the rates for those who use more water. At each tier, the rate increases. Updating the pricing structure in such a way would align with the Council's stated values of reducing our collective waste levels and creating a more sustainable community.


Laura Porter
Owner, Byrd’s Filling Station
San Mateo’s first Zero Waste Grocery Store