URGENT: Ecology Center Recycling Program in Danger

Dear Berkeley Residents and Ecology Center Supporters,

The City of Berkeley is considering terminating our curbside recycling program based on an incomplete and inaccurate consultant report. We urgently need your help to save this community-based program. Please attend the Berkeley City Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 8th to voice your support for the Ecology Center. The future of our organization is at stake.

Last fall, the Berkeley City Council commissioned an assessment of Berkeley’s solid waste division from Irvine-based consultants Sloan Vazquez LLC. Last week, the firm released their report, which recommends, among other actions, that the City of Berkeley terminate the Ecology Center’s curbside recycling program.

The Ecology Center is committed to helping the City of Berkeley close the deficit gap in its solid waste budget. It is possible, but not by terminating the Ecology Center recycling program. The report is filled with inaccurate figures, inappropriate comparisons, irresponsible assertions, and significant oversights. These include the cost of Ecology Center trucks, the number of accounts we serve, and the estimated cost to subsume our service into the City’s Solid Waste Division. At no point did Sloan Vazquez interview the Ecology Center to verify their numbers or assumptions. Third party consultants have reviewed the report and find it lacking and inaccurate on a number of fronts. Berkeley’s Zero Waste Commission deemed the report incomplete.

We believe that the termination of the Ecology Center’s recycling program would not result in the savings that Sloan Vazquez LLC estimates, and that instead, the proposed change would lead to continued budget deficits, a decline in customer service, and the loss of an outstanding community program.

Please – if you value the Ecology Center and our many programs and services, attend the City Council Meeting Tuesday, March 8th, or call your City Council representative and ask them to work with the Ecology Center to pursue alternative cost-cutting strategies.

With sincere gratitude,

The Ecology Center Staff

P.S. The City Council Meeting will take place at 5:30pm in the City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. To find contact info in order to call or email your City Council representative, consult the list below. To find your district, refer to the district map on the City’s website.

Tom Bates, Mayor: (510) 981-7100, mayor@CityofBerkeley.info
Linda Maio, District 1: (510) 981-7110, lmaio@CityofBerkeley.info
Darryl Moore, District 2: (510) 981-7120, dmoore@CityofBerkeley.info
Max Anderson, District 3: (510) 981-7130, manderson@CityofBerkeley.info
Jesse Arreguin, District 4: (510) 981-7140, jarreguin@CityofBerkeley.info
Laurie Capitelli, District 5: (510) 981-7150, lcapitelli@CityofBerkeley.info
Susan Wengraf, District 6: (510) 981-7160, swengraf@CityofBerkeley.info
Kriss Worthington, District 7: (510) 981-7170, kworthington@CityofBerkeley.info
Gordon Wozniak, District 8: (510) 981-7180, gwozniak@CityofBerkeley.info

For more information, call our Recycling Hotline at (510) 527-5555.

UPDATE (4 March 2011): We’ve added more background here.

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