In 2006, the City of Hollister, City of San Juan Bautista and the County of San Benito demonstrated to the community their ability to work together and move forward on a joint agreement for waste services working as a Joint Powers Authority. As a resident, I appreciated their leadership, but more importantly I appreciated that they put the residents and rate payers of all three jurisdictions first, putting aside any politics. In 2015 the waste services agreement with our current provider was extended for three years as it was allowed by the agreement, leaving the current agreement in place until June 2018.
Since 2006, many pieces of state legislation regarding waste diversion and our own personal behavior toward waste and recycling have changed. As a society and as a county, we have learned the importance of recycling and doing our part to prevent sending every piece of used material to a landfill. Focusing on waste diversion must continue to be our focus here in San Benito County.
In late 2016, both the San Benito County Board of Supervisors and the San Juan Bautista City Council continued their leadership and acted to once again look out for us residents and work with the Joint Powers Authority on waste (Hollister, San Juan Bautista and County of San Benito) to explore new options for waste services in all three jurisdictions. Both jurisdictions during their discussions underscored the importance of taking the step of issuing a request for proposals (RFP) from service providers so they could be sure that the residents interests were considered and fair garbage service rates would be achieved. In addition, our local waste service provider should also focus their efforts on increasing waste diversion percentages and work with the residents to do their part as a community partner and our service provider.
Unfortunately, though the County of San Benito and the City of San Juan Bautista took these actions, the Hollister City Council seemed to have missed the message.
On February 6, the Hollister City Council, being the last jurisdiction in the JPA to take similar action, unexpectedly decided to go a separate route. Instead of proceeding with a transparent process of an RFP and allow competition for better rates, the City Council decided to exclusively negotiate with the current service provider and not allow any other waste provider to propose their own ideas for waste diversion or new garbage rates for residents, essentially leaving us residents all in the dark. The Hollister City Council’s action was very unfortunate. As a resident, I expected more from the members, but that wasn’t the case.
With that said, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. The Hollister City Council still has time to reconsider its action and work with the County of San Benito and the City of San Juan Bautista and do the right thing; Stand up for the residents and rate payers of the community and go out to bid for waste services. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.
By Luke Corona, Hollister resident