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Kensington Trash Imbroglio, Chapter 2

Kensington's longtime garbage-collecting company may be willing to reconsider the small bombshell it dropped last week when it hand-delivered a letter mid-meeting saying it intended to quit.

If Kensington’s waste collection contract is assigned to another company, there will be no change in service, according to Charles Toombs, board chair of the agency that oversees the town's trash-hauling contract.

The current waste hauler, Bay View Refuse and Recycling, informed the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District (KPPCSD) board last week that it no longer wanted to collect the community’s trash and requested a reassignment of the firm's contract to Republic Services, which operates Richmond Sanitary Service.

Bay View had requested rate increases of 6 percent for large cans and 23 percent for small cans, the topic of a before the KPPCSD board June 9. The board voted 3-2 against the increase, noting that under the provisions of the current agreement, Bay View did not meet the requirements for a rate increase outside the normal rate adjustment schedule. The were increased last year.

Toombs said he is open to continuing service with Bay View, noting, “We’re always open to talk, but as I said at the meeting, I will not negotiate with a gun at my head.”

Lewis Figone, the owner of Bay View, said he was still open to talking about continuing the contract with Kensington. “I’m still open to negotiating with the town,” he said. “I would like to see them appoint a subcommittee to come down here, and we’ll see what we can work out.”

Figone such a procedure had been standard in the past, adding, “I don’t know why they didn’t do it this time.” He said that he was committed to turning the contract over to Republic Services, effective Jan. 1, 2012, if no agreement could be reached.

Bay View has served Kensington for more than 65 years.

Figone said he had talked to Republic about taking over the contract “several times.”

Shawn Moberg, general manager at Republic's Richmond Sanitary, said he had very little advance notice that Figone was going to take action last week. “We had a brief discussion,” Moberg said, "but I didn’t know he was going to send out letters until I got a copy, five days later.”

According to Moberg, there would have to be discussions with the town if they wanted to grant Figone’s request. He said a timetable of Jan. 1, 2012, is "reasonable."

“We have other communities with service similar to Kensington, so it wouldn’t be a problem,” he added. 

According to  Toombs, “Anyone who accepts the service will have to abide by the current contract,” which means that backyard service, green trash removal and any other services delineated would have to continue.

Moberg said his company provides backyard service in other communities. In several communities, Richmond Sanitary operates a more automated service with trucks that use robotic arms to collect trash containers placed curbside. But according to Moberg, that’s just one of several methods the company uses.

Toombs says the next step for the board is to conduct "due diligence" in evaluating Bay View's request to terminate the contract and probably take a close look at the operation of Richmond Sanitary. He said it might entail hiring a consultant, but he was unsure of how long the process might take.

The trash issue is not currently on the agenda for the next board meeting, but according to Toombs, "Things could change." The board meets the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., which would be July 14.

During the public comments but before the board vote on June 9, Figone hand-delivered his letter, saying he wanted the contract to be assigned to Republic Services.

After submitting the letter, Figone and his General Manager Greg Christie left the session, followed shortly by other Bay View staff members. That tactic did not sit well with Toombs, who said, “Throwing the letter at us and just walking out is not negotiating.”

According to Christie, it wasn’t the intent of the company to stage a walkout en mass, but they all came to the meeting in one car, and once Figone got outside, he realized “he didn’t have a ride home” unless the other Bay View representatives came too.

When asked if there were any other options, Toombs said the town is “always open to negotiating. If there’s a problem with the contract, we are always willing to talk and anything is possible, but we will not be blackmailed.”

“Mr. Figone feels he’s been mistreated by the town, but I think the town has been mistreated,”  Toombs added.

Bay View Refuse has contracts to collect trash in Kensington, Sausalito and Marin City.

Figone’s nephew, Mark Figone, runs East Bay Sanitary Service, which collects trash in El Cerrito.

Susan Garfin June 18, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Apologies if this is a repeat. I think my comment got erased, so I'm rewriting it. As a long time Kensington resident I will be very sorry to see Bay View Refuse leave town if that is the outcome of the current dispute. The service has been excellent, the men who work for the company are conscientious and friendly. They are also careful to leave the streets clear and passable rather than block them with their trucks, which is something I run into repeatedly in neighboring towns. I don't believe we have any real guarantee that we'll be able to continue to receive the same level of service from another company. May cool heads prevail on all sides of the current debate.
Dorothy Coakley June 19, 2011 at 05:04 AM
I, too, have always been pleased with the service that the Figone family provides. (We live in EC, which is now under Mark Figone's supervision.) The word "family" is the operative. Figones do treat their customers like family.
Bryce Nesbitt June 20, 2011 at 08:07 PM
It is time for the KPPCSD to counter offer to the Figone family. For example: grant the rate hike now, but require that any excess profit (beyond the 12% target) be returned as a rate reduction in future years. That way Bay View gets their contracted return, but no more.
Dorothy Coakley June 21, 2011 at 02:56 AM
I don't live in Kensington, so I'll leave the details for you folks who has out. But do be careful, you never know what you have till its gone.
Dorothy Coakley June 21, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Oops..."I'll leave the details for you folks to hash out." That last sentence really got mangled.

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