There was a seven hour trash stink at L.A. City Hall yesterday as businesses from across the City expressed their anger about a proposal that would give the City the power to select the trash hauler for every business in Los Angeles and set the rates as well.

For the first time in the history of Los Angeles, the City is moving forward with a proposal that will set waste hauling rates for all privately held multi-family and commercial businesses by moving from an open market system to an exclusive franchise selected by the City.  Specifically, the Los Angeles Board of Public Works is recommending that the City establish an exclusive franchise for each of the 11 yet to be established waste hauling districts. The proposal will create a costly and contentious bureaucracy for businesses and put the squeeze on small, family-owned waste hauling companies, many of whom have served Los Angeles for generations.

Supporters cite environmental and public safety reasons why the City must adopt an exclusive franchise system. What they fail to acknowledge is that the City can achieve the same environmental and safety standards through a non-exclusive franchise arrangement, whereby haulers who meet certain pre-determined standards are allowed to haul in the City.

An economic analysis by AECOM reveals why business owners were so upset yesterday and why everyone at City Hall should take another look at the serious financial ramifications of this proposal.  Cities in L.A. County with exclusive franchise agreements have rates that are 33 percent higher than non-exclusive franchise areas, according to the report. More than 85,000 businesses would be impacted as well as 1.7 million people who live in rental units.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is no non-political reason why the City cannot achieve zero waste goals, fair wages and worker safety protections in a non-exclusive franchise. It is as simple as writing a binding agreement stating standards by which haulers must abide in order to do business in the City. If you don’t meet the standards, you don’t haul in the City of Los Angeles. If you violate those standards, you lose your contract.

But this fair and straight forward approach would not give the City the power to pick the exclusive franchisee or to set the rates. I suggest that every business in Los Angeles raise its voice on this issue by contacting your City Councilmember and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It stinks and your product or service could be next.