Town Garbage 101: Part 2

Last week we talked about garbage, and the history of Upper Valley Disposal + Recycling, and how their contract with the local up-valley communities works. This week, we will discuss the future of waste disposal in the Napa Valley and some of the recent headlines surrounding UVDR. 

Drama is not something you usually associate with waste collection, but we have seen some drama surrounding St. Helena and Upper Valley Disposal + Recycling over the last few months. In a February 8, 2021 letter, the Mayor of St. Helena, Geoff Ellsworth, called for St. Helena to leave the Joint Powers Authority Upper Waste Management Agency (UVWMA) and put out its own RFP for waste management services. This caused an uproar from not only UVDS but other members of the council and the community. Mary Koberstein wrote a letter, St. Helena’s city delegate to the UVWMA during her time on the St. Helena City Council, addressing Ellsworth’s claims and refutes his findings that Upper Valley Disposal + Recycling is lacking. She states in her open letter that “Given the daunting legal, financial and practical impediments to withdrawal, I see no reason or urgency for you to agendize a discussion about withdrawing from the JPA. If you do, I strongly urge you to vote to remain in the JPA because membership is in the City’s best interests. Nothing is to be gained by taking on the responsibility and added cost of overseeing waste management operations within City limits, even if you get to hire a different contractor fifteen or more years down the road. Moreover, if St. Helena withdraws from the JPA, in that case, it stands to lose hundreds of thousands of  dollars of annual franchise fees that will become payable to JPA Members under the terms of the recently amended and restated Franchise Agreement with UVDS.” 

After the February 8th letter, adding fuel to the fire came to light that Mayor Ellesworth had been in contact with Recology, an outside waste management firm. This information prompted Upper Valley Disposal Services COO, Christy Pestoni, to call for Mayor Ellesworth’s resignation. According to a Napa Register Article, “A Recology operations manager talked to Ellsworth in Davis on March 30 and notified Recology Vice President Dave Adler that Ellsworth “was interested in Recology services for St. Helena,” Adler told Pestoni in an April 2 email.” Vice President of Recology, Dave Adler, “responded to (the operations manager) that Recology was not interested in any way and that Upper Valley has a Franchise Agreement with St. Helena,”

On Monday, May 3, St. Helena is holding a JPA workshop at a special St. Helena Council meeting regarding the Joint Powers Authority. Suppose St. Helena decides not to vote for the current Amendment that is up for the JPA. In that case, they will get no franchise fees for the city; they would need to implement their own collection for SB 1383 and would still need to use Upper Valley Disposal Service and Clover Flat as their service provider for at least the next 18 years. 

While the current climate in St. Helena around waste management is tense, it has not stopped UVDS from doing its job and providing services to Yountville and the upper Napa Valley communities. 

One of UVDS’s current priorities is preparing our communities for new regulations under SB 1383. SB 1383, California’s organic waste diversion, requires every jurisdiction to provide organic waste collection services to all residents and businesses. In this case, “organic waste includes food, green material, landscaping, organic textiles, lumpers wood, paper products, printing paper, manure, biosolids, digestate, and sludges.” 

“We see this as a continuation of our work to recycle, reuse, protect our local environment, and combat climate change. Our plan is to partner with our cities and Napa County to educate all residents and businesses about collection requirements, including what materials to put in curbside bins,” says COO Christy Pestoni. “In addition, we believe it is important to be considerate neighbors as we have invested millions of dollars in operational systems to improve compliance, protect our local streams and river, reduce odors and air pollution. With SB1383 and CA Air Resources Board regulations for composting facilities, we will be making more technological investment to further reduce emissions. We are planning for a $3M investment in the compost field.”

Yountville has already signed the 5th Amendment. This means that UVDS will fulfill the new SB 1383 requirements. Yountville will also receive franchise fees over the next three years, which could equate to over $100,000 per year. These fees are collected on the billing statements, paid to the JPA, and then redistributed to each member (or jurisdiction). In addition, the Town of Yountville will receive waste and recycling services at no charge; residents will be able to take advantage of two bulky item pick-ups a year.

Do you have further questions about Upper Valley Disposal Services or how our waste collection happens? We want to hear from you!

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