iOS app Android app More

Aaron Sankin

Recology Wars: Proposition A Backers Look To Take Down San Francisco's Biggest Monopoly

Posted: Updated: 05/29/2012 6:44 pm

San Francisco Proposition A

Moreover, Prop A mandates that the city build a brand-new transfer station -- and no one knows where the funds to create said facility would come from.

"There are costs embedded within this that have no identified funding source and I don't think have been fully vetted or thought through," Corey Marshall of San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) told HuffPost. "The real question is whether or not the city has the desire or capacity to construct all those different types of assets and if that's something the city really needs to be taking on right now given all the other budget constraints."

SPUR issued a release urging San Franciscans to vote against the measure.

Jordan Curley, who manages the official campaign against Prop A, echoed Marshall's sentiments. "All the measure would do is create a massive bureaucracy, and there's no guarantee that it would lower rates."


Residential rates for waste collection in San Francisco are set by a three-person board comprised of the City Administrator, the City Controller and the General Manager of the Public Utilities Commission. Commercial costs, on the other hand, are simply dictated by Recology.

"It pretends not to be politicized," says Kelly, "but it is."

Recology is about as politically connected a company as exists in San Francisco. The company is funding tons of slate cards in this June's election, having placed its "No on A" ads on the backs of mailers put out by everyone from the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club to the San Francisco Democratic Party to the teacher's union.

And Recology has maintained an exceptionally close relationship not only to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and current Mayor Ed Lee, but also their electoral campaigns.

The company came under fire for coordinating with Chinatown power broker Rose Pak in the campaign to convince Ed Lee to run for a full term as mayor. It was also implicated in bribery scandals in San Jose and San Bernadino. In the latter case, a Recology executive was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his part in the scheme.

In a letter sent to District Attorney George Gascon in January, Judge Kopp attached sworn affidavit from a Prop A signature gatherer who claimed to have been threatened and harassed by operatives hired by Recology. The Recology contractor allegedly said that anyone campaigning against his company would be blacklisted from ever working on ballot initiatives again.

Curley called the allegations "unfounded and ridiculous."

Despite their potentially questionable ties, Recology's reputation in the industry is one of a company infinitely more involved in their community than their competitors. Their success in greening of the city's waste stream is nothing to be scoffed at. "Granted, they're a business first and foremost," recycling industry veteran Dylan Haas told HuffPost. "But they take their reputation as a green company very seriously."

The rub, according to Prop A's backers, is less specifically about Recology than it is about how San Francisco deals with one of its most important corporate partners.

"I have no problem with Recology’s operation," said Kelly. "This is really just about how City Hall does business."