Del Mar schedules public hearing on new trash pickup rates

By Claire Harlin

The City of Del Mar will implement a new “pay-as-you-throw” solid waste disposal system next spring, unless the majority of the community objects on or before a Dec. 12 public hearing.

Under the proposed tier system, which has been created in part to incentivize recycling, customers will pay different rates depending on the trash container size they select. Those with a 64-gallon trash container will see no rate change, those who choose a 96-gallon will see an increase of about $2 and those who choose a 32-gallon will pay about $4 less than what they are paying. Additional containers are $2 each, and recycling pickup will carry no additional charge. Residents currently pay a flat rate of $18.91 no matter how much they dispose of.

The hearing, to be held at 240 10th St., will be conducted in accordance with Proposition 218, which requires cities to give the public a chance to provide testimony on any proposed rate change and put changes into effect only after a “no-protest finding,” according to a city staff report. Community members can also respond in writing to

Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier said the new rate schedule came about after a number of meetings with the city’s sustainability advisory board and a six-month pilot study that proved successful at the north end of Del Mar. On Sept. 26, the council chose to contract with Coast Waste Management out of four companies who submitted bid proposals to implement the new fee system.

The plan will modernize the way the city deals with solid waste, Mosier said, and it will also make recycling easier. Each customer will get a 64-gallon bin for recyclables, which is much bigger than the crates that are currently used, and they won’t have to sort recyclables because Waste Management will provide that part of the service.

“The whole process will be much easier, faster and safer,” he said, adding that Waste Management will implement a semi-automatic system that will allow the truck to do some of the work in emptying trash containers into it, taking a load off of the waste hauler.

Under Assembly Bill 939, Waste Management will also provide the city with $50,000 to use for recycling education and community outreach. Mosier said that money will cover mainly staff time and some materials needed to meet with property owners and encourage commercial recycling. That outreach will include solving some practical issues, such as facilitating the sharing of bins between businesses which may not have room for two dumpsters.

Longtime Del Mar resident John Haraden takes issue with the new rate schedule for several reasons, one being that it doesn’t allow for flexibility in how much one throws away. For example, a household would have to spend more to have several trash containers to allow for them to have the occasional party in which they produce more waste. Likewise, he pointed out, there are many who are out of town often and produce no waste during that time, but they may need more than the smallest can size while they are in town.

“Sometimes people put out only one barrel, but sometimes people put out five or six,” said Haraden. “Soon they won’t have the same flexibility.”

He said he is caring for his 102-year-old aunt, and that the fee change will be unfortunate for people like him who must dispose of incontinence aids or mothers who dispose of diapers. With that responsibility, he said, also comes the lack of time and energy to recycle.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of time sorting through cans and garbage. I find it particularly unpleasant,” he said, adding that he will have to pay $6 more a month (that includes the cost of additional trash cans he needs) to be able to throw away as much as he currently does. “I don’t want to be forced into recycling. I don’t like the idea of government forcing people to do things. Plus, I am not sufficiently domestic enough to know what’s recyclable and what’s not.”