The Berkeley City Council approved a five-year incremental rate hike for residential waste pickup Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Credit: Zac Farber

With the city facing new and rising costs for waste management, the City Council approved a five-year incremental rate hike for residential waste pickup Tuesday.

Officials previously said the city needs the money to implement a new state-level organic waste law, replace its decades-old transfer station and, in part, fund some limited street repairs to offset the damage done by waste collection vehicles. 

The fees city property owners and tenants pay for sanitation go directly to a dedicated enterprise fund, which funds the sanitation work. City officials said they needed to adjust their rates to keep enough cash in the fund to run citywide sanitation work.

Residents who endeavor to recycle and compost on their own, and have smaller trash containers, said the rate structure — which officials say is a byproduct of a 27-year-old ballot initiative — would hit them at a greater rate.

Monthly rates for residential pickup would increase in increments over the next five fiscal years, varying by container size. These are the increases for single weekly collections:

  • 13-gallon: $17.78 to $47.78, or roughly 169%
  • 20-gallon: $27.30 to $57.30, or roughly 110%
  • 32-gallon: $43.66 to $73.66, or roughly 69%
  • 45-gallon: $61.38 to $88.09, or roughly 44%
  • 64-gallon: $87.28 to $99.60, or roughly 14%, although there would be a decrease for the financial year 2024

Homes with 96-gallon containers would actually see a roughly 9% net decrease by the financial year 2028, from $130.87 down to $118.47.

The city is also phasing out two container sizes for residences, 13- and 45-gallon, which the manufacturer no longer makes. The Zero Waste Division’s vehicles’ automated arms cannot hoist those sizes.

A 2019 rendering shows what Berkeley’s waste facility could look like, included in a report outlining three possible visions for the center. Image: City of Berkeley / Zero Waste Collaborative

Rates for short-term bin service would also increase over the next five years.

Under the strictures of Proposition 218, protest letters from a majority of property owners could have blocked the council’s vote on the rate changes. Of the required 14,580 protest letters that could have blocked it, the city received 290.

The ballot measure, passed in 1996, requires cities to set fees based on costs of pickup, and the rates for customers with smaller containers have been hovering below the costs of service, officials said previously.

The council unanimously approved the new fee rates. The first set of new rates will take effect in July.

Alex N. Gecan joined Berkeleyside in 2023 as a senior reporter covering public safety. He has covered criminal justice, courts and breaking and local news for The Middletown Press, Stamford Advocate and...

Nico Savidge joined Berkeleyside in 2021 as a senior reporter covering city hall. Born and raised in Berkeley, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio as a high-schooler in the mid-2000s. Since then,...