San Diego - Districting Study

R3 was recently engaged by the City of San Diego (City) Environmental Services Department (ESD) to conduct a study that evaluated whether the ESD should implement a districted exclusive collection system for the diversion and disposal of commercial solid waste generated within the City. At the time of this project, the City regulated commercial solid waste generation under a non-exclusive commercial collection system, with 21 non-exclusive commercial Franchise Agreements (FAs) and nine franchise haulers competing for accounts throughout the City. Through the implementation of a “districted” system, the City would be organized into multiple service areas (districts) with a single hauler operating in each.

R3 had a wide range of responsibilities for this engagement, including, but not limited to performing the following tasks for the City:

  • Identifying and evaluating three alternative district configurations which the City could consider as starting points for defining boundaries in a new districted system;
  • Developing three different scenarios for implementation to present possible policy alternatives to the City;
  • Analyzing the issues identified in the Office of the City Auditor (OCA) in the August 2014 Performance Audit of ESD’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Programs both in terms of how other jurisdictions addressed these issues and their potential effect in the City of San Diego:
    • Potential to stimulate investment and innovation in recycling;
    • Customer service impacts;
    • Impact on street conditions and street maintenance costs;
    • Environmental impacts;
    • Impact on City’s ability to stabilize franchise and AB 939 fee revenues and monitor the accuracy of payments; and
    • Impact on long-term solid waste hauling competition.
  • Providing analysis on possible price impacts by conducting surveys on:
    • Rate and programs for cities in San Diego County;
    • Current commercial and multi-family rates in the City; and
    • Large California cities and other cities with exclusive commercial franchise systems.
  • Holding two public forums as an outreach program to discuss a districted exclusive collection system with haulers, interest groups and the general public; and
  • Making recommendations to the City in the case of implementation.

R3 ultimately found that adopting a districted exclusive collection system would produce many benefits, and accordingly made recommendations to the City regarding the implementation of such a system. These recommendations included specific details regarding the development of new FAs with exclusive franchised haulers to align with the City’s environmental goals, and a 3-district  option that maximized routing efficiency and reductions in traffic, air equality emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise.