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Trash choice brings high price

Pickup service in LCF is much more expensive than it is in Altadena

September 14, 2011|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • Jose Salcido from Athens Services collects trash around the 1300 block of W. Green Lane in La Canada Flintridge early Tuesday morning, September 13, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Jose Salcido from Athens Services collects trash around…

Residents of La Cañada Flintridge can choose the company that hauls their trash, but in doing so, they might be choosing higher prices. Even with Athens Services and Allied Waste Services competing, and new hauler NASA soon to be offering its services as well, La Cañada residents are paying more than Altadena residents.

The Los Angeles County Public Works Department on Sept. 1 entered its new exclusive contract for service in unincorporated Altadena with Athens, which charges $54 a quarter for basic three-can service, compared to quarterly prices of $89.68 for Allied and $91.11 for Athens in La Cañada. La Cañada’s contracts with Athens and Allied were renewed at the end of 2010 and expire in 2014.

Thor Schmidt, general manager of Athens Services, said that many factors affect pricing, from geography and distance from their facilities to what types of waste are most common. However, Schmidt said that in the case of the new Altadena contract, its length — 10 years — and exclusivity meant Athens could amortize the costs of new trucks, which are required to be run on compressed natural gas, and new cans.

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“There’s a big difference between a [compressed natural gas] vehicle and a diesel; it’s $300,000 for each [CNG] truck,” said Schmidt. “Now you’re going to spread those costs of those vehicles over three years or 10 years, that’s a big difference.”

Schmidt also said the difference in size between La Cañada and Altadena factored into the pricing.

“There’s also a difference between the number of households, 6,500 versus 13,500 households, and the 6,500 households in La Cañada are split between multiple haulers,” said Schmidt. “Traveling down the street and only having one or two of six residents be a customer … it’s a lot more costs involved.”

Allied Services’ rate in La Crescenta, meanwhile, is within 20 cents of their rate in La Cañada. Susan Passantino of Allied said the two cities were similar in terms of the factors used to determine pricing. Allied’s rate in La Cañada is marginally lower than that of Athens.

“Probably our biggest advantage is our ability to internalize our disposal. We own Sunshine Canyon landfill,” said Passantino.

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