San Francisco Competitive Bidding Required for Garbage Collection and Disposal, Proposition A (June 2012)

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A San Francisco Competitive Bidding Required for Garbage Collection and Disposal, Proposition A ballot question was on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in San Francisco, where it was decisively defeated.[1]

If Proposition A had been approved, it would have:

  • Required competitive bidding for the city's garbage contract.
  • Given the Board of Supervisors the right to set garbage rates.
  • Divided the garbage collection contract into five parts (residential collection, commercial collection, recycling and compostable processing, transportation to disposal sites, and disposal of remaining waste).
  • Required that the city own the waste processing and transfer stations.
  • Undone an initiative passed by the city's voters in 1932 that exempted the city's garbage contract from competitive bidding.

One company (Recology) has had the license to collect garbage in San Francisco since the 1930s. It has previously operated under other names, including Sunset Scavenger, Golden Gate Disposal and Norcal Waste Systems.[1]

San Francisco is the only municipality in the Bay Area that doesn't require competitive bidding for its garbage contract. Residential garbage collection rates have increase 136% in the city since 2001.[1]

Election results

Proposition A
Defeatedd No106,84876.57%
Yes 32,697 23.43%
These final election results are from the San Francisco County elections office.


Retired Judge Quentin Kopp and community activist Tony Kelly launched the effort to get Proposition A on the ballot and served as spokespersons for the "yes" campaign.[1]

They made these arguments in its favor:

  • It would add up to $50 million a year to the city's budget, without increasing taxes, fees or garbage rates.[2]
  • "The city's 1932 garbage collection ordinance has been manipulated into a no-contract monopoly without public accountability, and the only way to change the situation is at the ballot box."[2]
  • "Numerous examples exist in California in the last decade that consistently show that requiring competitive bidding for garbage and recycling services saves a city about 20 to 25 percent in costs. For the $220 million a year San Franciscans pay Recology, that could create a $44 million to $55 million reduction in rates or deliver a franchise fee for the city's budget."[2]
  • "Prop. A isn't a threat to Recology's business. If Recology truly resembles the company promoted in their ads, it will easily win every competitive bid submitted. But instead, it is spending millions of dollars - money given to them by ratepayers - to protect its no-contract monopoly control of San Francisco. Think about that when you see an ad or billboard for Recology's campaign."[2]


Recology, the private company that has the city's garbage contract, gave more than $1,500,000 to the campaign against Proposition A.[3] They hired Gale Kaufman to manage their campaign. The campaign included billboards throughout the city with the message, "Don't Mess with Success."[1]

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce opposed Proposition A. They said, "This measure stands to undermine the city’s successful efforts to reduce waste and has the potential to increase costs to ratepayers and the city’s budget. By requiring the city to break its garbage collection and disposal contract into five distinct categories and purchase its own processing and transfer facilities, this measure could replace today’s fairly priced, environmentally sound garbage collection system with a hodge-podge of programs operated by up to five separate companies, with a new city bureaucracy, all under the control of the Board of Supervisors. Don’t mess with success."[4]

Path to the ballot

Proposition A secured a spot on the ballot through the collection of signatures on initiative petitions.[1]

External links

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