Trash Haulers Win a Round in the Garbage Fight

2019 Editions February Updates

A lawsuit to lower the fees for commercial garbage collection in Los Angeles hit a roadblock last month when the judge said the case was too flawed to go forward.
But the Apartment Owners Association of California – which filed the lawsuit – has not given up. The judge gave the group until Feb. 8 to amend its lawsuit. Carolin Shining, one of the lawyers for the Apartment Owners, told the Boulevard Sentinel that an amended suit will be filed. And so the fight goes on.
Here’s the state of play: The Apartment Owner’s lawsuit, filed last May, was aimed at trash haulers hired by the City of Los Angeles under RecycLA, a new, mandatory system rolled out in 2016.
The lawsuit claimed that the haulers had misled the City about what their costs would be to do the job, causing the City to set overly high garbage-collection fees for businesses and apartment buildings. It also claimed that fees set by the City were maximums allowed by law; that haulers are could charge less if they chose to; and that haulers had committed fraud by telling customers they were required to charge the rates set by the City.
The trash haulers asked the court to reject the lawsuit outright, and on Jan. 10, Judge Maren Nelson of the L.A. County Superior Court did just that. Judge Nelson said that the lawsuit made no sense given the claims that the Apartment Owners have made in a previous lawsuit that is still making its way through the courts. That earlier lawsuit, filed against the City of Los Angeles in September, 2017, asserts that the fees for garbage collection under RecycLA are actually a new City tax and, as such, are illegal because voters never approved a new tax.
Judge Maren concluded that if the fees are a tax, as the first lawsuit claims, then they are not fees over which the trash haulers have control, as the second lawsuit claims.
It’s now up to the Apartment Owners Association to address the issue raised by the judge.