EL CERRITO -- The City Council cleared up a practical matter over its award-winning curbside recycling program by approving a deal Oct. 15 allowing its garbage collection provider to maintain the municipal fleet of recycling trucks.

El Cerrito has been sending its four trucks, which cost more than $300,000 apiece, to different garages around the Bay Area when they need maintenance and repairs.

The $107,900 annual contract with East Bay Sanitary, which operates a garage for its own trucks and vehicles in Richmond, provides a convenient, nearby location for repairs and preventive maintenance.

The trucks are from four to six years old and have a maximum life span of about 12 years if they are maintained properly, said Garth Schultz, manager of the city's operations and environmental services division.

If not, they can begin to break down much sooner and have to be replaced, he said.

When the trucks break down, they have to be taken out of service and towed to a garage, which requires more staff time.

In the interim, the remaining trucks get even more use, Schultz said.

"We do need to get the most out of our investment in the trucks," he said. "More maintenance is needed now to keep them on the road longer."

East Bay Sanitary will add a mechanic to maintain the El Cerrito trucks along with a group of about 15 smaller city vehicles, Schultz said.

The contract will be paid out of the city's Integrated Waste Management fee and shouldn't increase total costs to ratepayers, he said.


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Last year, the city spent about $90,000 for repairs and maintenance done on a piecemeal basis with other providers, Schultz said.

Building code

The council also approved the introduction of an ordinance adopting California state building codes for new construction, along with special regulations that will apply within the city.

The El Cerrito-specific rules are based on the fact that the city is in an area with earthquake, fire, flooding and landslide threats that may not apply in other areas statewide.

For example, because of the threat of wildfires that could begin in the hills, all new commercial buildings in El Cerrito larger than 5,000 square feet must have automatic sprinkler systems compared with buildings larger than 12,000 to 24,000 square feet, depending on their design, in the state fire code, according to city Fire Marshall Michael Bond.

El Cerrito also requires a permit for the sale of propane, while the state code has no such requirement, Bond said.

"The state code allows you to adapt to local conditions," he said.

The codes are reviewed for adoption every three years.

A final hearing on the ordinance will take place on Nov. 19.