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Apartment owners are challenging LA’s new trash collection system

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They say the eco-friendly plan should have been approved by voters

Garbage piled up in dumpster Shutterstock

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council approved an environmentally conscious garbage collection program aimed at reducing the amount of trash dumped at city landfills with “transparent and predictable” rates for property owners.

But now the Los Angeles Times reports that a group of apartment owners has challenged the legality of the program in court, arguing that it violates state requirements for new taxes on property owners.

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week by the Apartment Owners Association of California, along with two local residents. According to the Times, it alleges the new rate structure imposed by the Zero Waste LA initiative amounts to a tax—and thus should have been submitted to voter approval under Proposition 218, which requires a citywide vote on tax increases affecting property owners.

The initiative, which is scheduled to go into effect next month, will allow the city to award trash collection contracts for commercial, industrial, and multifamily properties to private companies. According to an announcement from Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office, 70 percent of LA’s trash comes from such properties.

City leaders expect the plan—which would also provide residents and workers with an additional 65,000 recycling bins—to lower the amount of landfill disposal a full 1 million tons per year by 2025.

The lawsuit, however, maintains that property owners, who have previously been able to pick their own garbage hauling companies, could see the price of trash collection “double or even triple,” as the Times reports.

The result of the lawsuit could have major ramifications for the new trash collection arrangement and the ability of the city council to make decisions that would affect utility fees for owners of commercial properties. It’s unlikely to affect homeowners and residents of multifamily buildings with four units or less. Their garbage hauling needs will continue to be handled by the Bureau of Sanitation, even after the Zero Waste LA program debuts.