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Two local garbage companies, undefined laws, cause trash clash in Lodi

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 10:00 pm

Loren Shively has two garbage bins at his small Lodi glass business. Not because he needs them, but because city officials aren't sure who has the right to pick up his trash.

Shively, co-owner of Tokay Glass, signed a contract with a new mover in town, but the company's old garbage hauler won't take its bin away.

Trucks still come to empty the container every week, even though there hasn't been anything in it for over a month, he said.

"It's crazy," Shively said.

Meanwhile, city officials are trying to sort through a messy situation between two local garbage companies.

The confusion stems from a city trash code that some say does not clearly state which Lodi businesses are commercial and which are industrial.

This otherwise minor detail could make or break an attempt by Dave Vaccarezza to once again enter the trash business in Lodi.

His company, California Waste Recovery Systems, is allowed to pick up only industrial trash according to local laws.

"We are going to go after every bit of the market we can," Vaccarezza said.

The problem is that the code is not specific enough in its definition of industrial garbage, he said.

Vaccarezza was once the preeminent garbage disposer in Lodi, a position now held by Central Valley Waste Services, a state-wide disposal company.

With more than 70,000 clients and 200 employees, he decided to cut the size of his business by 90 percent.

He sold the remainder of his company to Central Valley Waste in 1997 because he wanted to spend more time raising his two young sons.

His reduced business has 20 employees and offers a range of garbage collecting services to Galt and Woodbridge. With his children now older, he wanted to take on the Lodi trash business again.

Now he will become the only major competitor to a company that partly belonged to him.

Currently, the residential and commercial trash business in Lodi belongs to Central Valley Waste Services, which has a contract with the city for the next eight years. But the business of industrial waste remains open to competition, city officials said Wednesday.

Alex Oseguera, district manager for Central Valley Waste Services, said the garbage codes that were already on the books were sufficient for the company to operate for several years. It was never an issue until it was raised by Vaccarezza about a month ago, he said.

Because of its exclusive contract with the city, Central Valley Waste can offer services to businesses whether they are commercial or industrial, and didn't have a outstanding need to distinguish between the two.

Vaccarezza, on the other hand, can serve only industrial businesses and would benefit most from a broad definition of industry, which would include small operations like Shively's Tokay Glass.

"I guess we fit into kind of a gray area for now," Shively said.

But the existing city codes were sufficient for Central Valley Waste in the past and additional regulations would only cause confusion among its customers, Oseguera said.

"We are just looking for a clear definition of what industrial waste is," he said.

Because the only competitive trash collecting venue is industrial, regulations for it are somewhat unique.

Trash collecting companies must pay a franchise tax of 4.8 percent of their gross revenue to the city, in addition to an annual $500 permit.

Smaller trash collectors have an advantage over larger ones because they would be charged a lower rate by the city, Lodi City Manager Dixon Flynn said.

"We are trying to come up with a definition that both California Waste and Central Valley Waste can agree to," he said.

An obvious example of a commercial waste producer would be a company like Wal-Mart, while General Mills would be a typical example of an industrial producer, Flynn said.

However, problems arise when businesses don't fit neatly into the city's definitions, like Tokay Glass, which manufactures thick glass windows, but also sells to the public.

Shively said Central Valley Waste refuses to take away its trash bins from Tokay Glass even though he signed a contract with Vaccarezza's company.

Central Valley Waste trucks continue to come to his business and dump out his empty garbage bin. He's not sure if he will be billed at the end of the month. Shively likes the service from California Waste better and likens Central Valley's arrangement with the city to a monopoly.

Shively said the service he gets from Vaccarezza's company is about $30 cheaper and that he has received thank you cards from the owners.

"The only thing I get from the city is a bill and a bunch of problems," he said.


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