Sherman Oaks landlord Chuck Betz, business property owner Daniel Faller and the Apartment Owners Association of California sued the City of Los Angeles in Superior Court, claiming Zero Waste L.A. Franchise System was created through an ordinance that violates the California Constitution and establishes “illegal taxes.”
The public-private partnership passed by the City Council this year intends to reduce landfill waste by 1 million tons a year by 2025, and reduce waste by 65 percent in 11 city service zones.
Set to begin July 1, the program increases the fees the city charges for refuse hauling from 10 to 12 percent, according to the lawsuit.
“Appearing to benefit all city residents, Zero Waste actually illegally and dramatically increases rates and fees for waste hauling on commercial property owners and certain multifamily property owners, not all citizens or property owners equally,” according to the 25-page complaint.
The city promised the waste hauling program would deliver reduced rates for businesses and commercial customers, but the “exact reverse is true,” the property owners say. They say the city passes on higher costs on to commercial customers and those who own multifamily apartments.
The owners say that without property owners’ consent, costs will increase by 3 percent per year, affecting 65,000 customers and 18,000 multifamily apartments. Despite the program’s environmental goals, the owners say, they expect to see more waste hauling trucks and waste containers on the street.
“The amounts of these drastic increases and illegal taxes have not been made generally available to the public or clearly disclosed to news outlets,” the complaint states. “Again, there has been no discussion of these large increases on any of the city’s websites, memos or press releases. Instead, they are buried and hidden inside seven 250-plus page contracts.”
Los Angeles selected seven waste hauling businesses that will squeeze out family-owned and non-monopoly waste haulers, the owners say.
They seek an injunction against the city and a declaration that the program violated the state constitution. They are represented by Carolin Shining of Sherman Oaks.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.