The below letters were written and sent by Attorney Michael Millman.
To: David Zahniser
Los Angeles Times
Dear Sir: Thank you for your excellent article. The Department of Sanitation has no protocol, procedure or arrangement for a condominium owner, apartment owner or others to challenge or otherwise contest the rates that appear on their bill; nothing.
If you receive a traffic citation or a parking ticket, you can arrange with LADOT to challenge or otherwise contest the ticket. It is not difficult. You present your case and get an outcome.
Los Angeles Sanitation has no arrangement. If you call their phone lines, you’re put on hold for 40 minutes. If you call the seven large trash haulers, they will have a pleasant receptionist take the information; however, they will fail to act.
For example, at one of my apartment buildings, eight blue bins were delivered six weeks ago. We asked that they be removed. We make several more requests and each time they’ve been ignored.
This deal is simple. You were present five years ago. The Los Angles Federation of Labor through LAANE obtained 13 council votes and passed the deal. It took five years to implement. The deal is bankrupt. It depends and relies upon tenants to actually do the “sorting”, however, these tenants have no interest in helping or otherwise cooperating with this – none. It’s difficult to get a tenant to even report a malfunctioning plumbing fixture.
So, to ask the tenants to engage in some type of formal protocol, discipline or focus in connection with sorting certain categories of trash is impossible.
The annual rental adjustment is 3%. Perhaps if the tenants had to pay directly for the trash retrieval system and they were advised that the rates would dramatically decrease if they were diligent, we would have more cooperation and/or participation by tenants. Never.
The seven trash haulers eliminated the 161 small providers. They did it through deception and lying. They claimed that if you remove the small trash haulers that there would be fewer “trips” and we would protect our asphalt and concrete and reduce traffic congestion. Of course, that’s a false narrative. You have the same amount of bins, tenants and of course, trash hauling responsibilities. So, you have the same number of trips, but instead of it being divided by 161 companies, it is divided by only seven.
Now, the big haulers had to pay $35,000,000 a year for the privilege of having a monopoly. So where do they make up the money? Yes, they inflated the fees and charges. Everyone knows this is the “game”.
So if a one yard, standard trash bin was charged at $90 per month – that same service would now have to be charged at $200 per month. Simply tell the truth.
However, our friends at City Hall and those who fully understand the power of union influence will not tell you the truth. You were present five years ago during the debates and you saw the thousands of persons coming to the City Hall Chambers protesting the “deal.”
You stood next to most of these landlords, condominium owners, shopping center owners and others. Of course they made special deals for hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai and large apartment groups such as Park La Brea as well as motion picture studios and others. Yes, preferential treatment.
So the trash hauling deal is really a back room, illegal and unlawful tax which should have been presented to the voters for consideration.
In any event, I enjoyed your article and I hope you meet with several others and they explain to you why it’s unlawful. I think my friend, Dan Faller, President of the Apartment Owners Association of California, (AOA) has filed a lawsuit and David Hernandez has started collecting signatures for a ballot measure. Sincerely, Michael Millman
To: David Zahniser and Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times
You’ve now done all the research. Six years ago, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Helena Durazo and Greg Goode offered a plan to the City Council – eliminate 171 small haulers. Construct a monopoly. Give the contracts to seven big haulers and deceive the citizens into believing that the amount of trips through a neighborhood would be diminished by reducing the haulers. A false narrative.
2018 has the same amount of trash or more. Therefore, you need the same number of trash hauling vehicles making the same number of trips to handle the demands. No difference – the trips are the same; the weight on the concrete or asphalt is the same.
Now, these seven large haulers needed to pay a fee to the City. Simple. They agreed to pay $35,000,000 per year. So how could they afford this enormous extortion engineered by the City without increasing charges? Remember, the service is the same or less. They falsified the need for walking 50 feet to pick up the bin. They lied about the size of the bins. They added dozens of unrequested blue bins. They said they needed several hundred dollars just to open gates. But basically, they increased the service charge by 400% without an explanation.
Greg Goode is charming, very smart and likeable. He told the apartment owners that the rates would never go greater than 3%. He told the apartment owners that if they had a remote location for the trash bins that there would be no extra charge. So, we had problems.
Everyone knows that in order to reduce the size of landfill and or eliminate landfills, you need individual tenants to sort their trash. Tenants don’t want to do so. Los Angeles Sanitation has no outreach.
Did any of you see Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax or any other super celebrity, including Kobe Bryant get on the radio or TV with public announcements about the blue bins, sorting and trash? Never. NEVER!
So … tenants don’t care. The landlords and condominium associations are overbilled. We’ll have some lawsuits and the judges will find the whole scheme a fraud and we’ll start over. What’s so sad is that some of the councilpersons who voted for this knew that many of the small trash haulers were from African-American and Hispanic or Latin families. That’s terrible that these families lost their entire businesses!
Well, you should do the investigation and write some great articles. There are many persons who can give you quotes. Sincerely, Michael Millman