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Talking trash: San Ramon council seeks new waste collection contract

Aqua Bears give thanks, grant-funded projects among other meeting highlights

The San Ramon City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to start a new competitive bidding process to select the city's next waste management provider.

The city's contract with Waste Management of Alameda County is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2019. Because of that, said solid waste and recycling program manager David Krueger, the council needed to start considering whether it wanted to enter into sole source negotiations with Waste Management, or allow other companies to enter the bidding process with a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process.

Despite Waste Management representatives' request to pursue sole-source negotiations, council members followed the staff recommendation to start the RFP process.

"I think it serves our citizens the best," Councilman Scott Perkins said Tuesday night at San Ramon City Hall.

Krueger presented his staff report to the council, highlighting the pros and cons of each option.

"The primary advantage of an RFP process is that it is the clearest way for the city to be confident that it has obtained the best pricing possible," according to Krueger. "The primary advantage (of) a sole-source negotiation is that it reduces the risk of contracting with a vendor whose service quality and contract compliance turn out to be worse than the status quo."

Waste Management's customer satisfaction rating and contract compliance are "adequate and are not sub-par," according to the most recent Open San Ramon solid waste survey, and San Ramon's current customer rates for solid waste and recycling services are slightly below average for the region.

If the city were to choose to enter into sole-source negotiations with Waste Management, a concrete deadline would be necessary to allow enough time to conduct an RFP process in case the contractor and city couldn't come to terms, Krueger said.

"Therefore, if council desires to go in this direction, the city should only enter into sole-source negotiations with Waste Management if Waste Management agrees to extend the existing franchise agreement, with no changes, for an additional year," Krueger wrote in the staff report.

Waste Management representative Matthew Del Carlo came to the podium in favor of the city entering into sole-source negotiations with them.

"Waste Management has been a partner with San Ramon for over 10 years, prior to that through another incarnation of the Valley Wast," Del Carlo said.

"During that 10-year period of time, we've been a partner with the community, giving beyond what the contract stipulated, by partnering with various charity organizations, the chamber and other events, to the tune of over $10,000 annually in in-kind and financial contributions," he added. "We want to continue on that partnership, and I would love to have your 'yes' vote on sole negotiation with us, with the option to go to RFP."

Council members acknowledged the loyalty of Waste Management, but they all expressed the need to move to an RFP.

"These things can get really ugly, and it is incumbent upon the city council to look very above board and be very above-board," Vice Mayor Dave Hudson said. "And to not go out for an RFP would be sending a very bad message."

The council voted 4-0 in favor of an RFP; council member Phil O'Loane was absent from the meeting.

In other business

* The San Ramon Aqua Bears, a local nonprofit swim team, appeared en masse at the meeting to honor the city for helping the team find a new home pool, after the San Ramon Golf Club abruptly closed pool access in spring 2016.

"We do not know the names of all those who took steps to help us through our crisis, but we would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all of those involved, and certainly to the city council, the city manager and Mayor (Bill) Clarkson," said Sarah Eddings, Aqua Bears co-president.

The team now practices at the San Ramon Olympic Pool at California High School.

Club ownership cited cost-cutting measures as the rationale behind closing the pool a year and a half ago. The Aqua Bears received the news two days before they were about to start their 2016 season, after nearly three decades at the club, according to Eddings.

But city officials worked with the team, said Eddings, to find a new space, and thye entered into a partnership agreement with the Aqua Bears to assume ownership of the pool lane lines that the team owned but could no longer use, in exchange for a discount on pool rental fees.

"This agreement helped ease the financial burden of our unexpected transition to a new pool facility," Eddings said.

She also thanked the city of San Ramon for granting the Aqua Bears' application for a special co-sponsorship status in April.

"We are honored that the city has recognized the special nature of our youth swim team program and we are deeply committed to serving our community as a co-sponsored group," she said.

* The council authorized funding application filings for three specific projects: the Bollinger Canyon Road-Iron Horse Trail Overcrossings Project, the Alcosta Boulevard Pavement Rehabilitation Project and the San Ramon Valley Street Smarts Program.

The three projects received grant approval for One Bay Area Grant (OBAG2) funding allocations, and because of that, project sponsors are required to file applications for each of the three, enter them into the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Fund Management System and upload an adopted resolution of local support for each one by Aug. 31.

OBAG2 allocated $14.3 million for the Iron Horse Trail Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing at Bollinger Canyon Road, $1.176 million for the Alcosta Boulevard Pavement Rehabilitation and $300,000 for the San Ramon Valley Street Smarts Program.

Perkins expressed particular excitement for the bridge overcrossing at Bollinger Canyon Road.

"I asked how many times a day on average that traffic has stopped on Bollinger Canyon Road because somebody pushed the pedestrian button," he said. "The fact of the matter is, that the average was 260 times a day, at about 35-40 seconds per cycle, comes to a little under three hours a day of red light. That's roughly three hours a day of red light that's going to disappear."

* The council voted to accept the work by Sausal Corp. for the San Ramon Library Expansion and Renovation as complete, authorizing the city clerk to file a notice of completion with the county recorder's office.

Program manager Steve Piersol presented the library renovations and expansions to the council, highlighting the children's play area, new jazz center and enlarged teen area, among other additions.

The project was completed for a little under $6 million, about half a million less than the allocated budget.

* Clarkson received an award in recognition of his five years of service to the city of San Ramon. Clarkson was elected as mayor in 2011.

* The council meeting originally scheduled for Aug. 22 has been canceled. The council's next regular meeting is set for Sept. 12.

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