GOING GREEN is cool these days, regardless of the cost.
So, perhaps it is appropriate that during Earth Day month, the city of Pleasanton revised its garbage collection system and jacked up rates for customers.
A year ago, the City Council set the goal of diverting 75 percent of trash from the landfill — an ambitious number to be sure. The 75 percent goal was a mandate from the Alameda County trash agency, which incidentally is the wealthiest government entity you're going to find, thanks to extra fees approved by misguided voters and other fees.
Most of the cities in the county already have reduced their trash stream by more than 50 percent, a significant achievement at no small cost. The reason: A state law that mandated the reductions and was accompanied by a $10,000-per-day fine if agencies fell short. That number grabbed any bureaucrat's attention.
So, being green in garbage for Pleasanton meant striving for the 75 percent number with the hope that it may be achieved. Instead of the state's big stick, the county waste board offers the carrot of a portion of the fees it collects for garbage from other counties dumped in Alameda County landfills. For Pleasanton, that's about $65,000 per year.
The fee schedule the council approved earlier this month increases the monthly cost for the standard 96-gallon container by $6.53 per month, or more than 23 percent. For residents using the 35-gallon can, rates climbed almost 16 percent.
In addition, the proposal tacked a 1 percent franchise fee onto Pleasanton Garbage Service's gross revenue that will generate about $180,000 per year.
Breaking down the math, let's say there are roughly 25,000 households in Pleasanton so the county-paid diversion fee amounts to $2.50 per year for each home (with generous rounding). To collect that, residents will be paying $66 more annually — only in going green government does this equation make sense.
The new service will require three pickup runs and three containers per household: green waste, trash and recyclables. The trash will go straight to the landfill while the recyclable materials will be sorted and reused.
The three runs plus additional equipment and staffing account for $2.60 of the increase, or more than 9 percent. So, households will pay the rough equivalent each month of what the city collects annually from the county.
This type of approach is unfortunately typical in government, particularly so in regulatory agencies that ignore any economic impact to strive for the regulatory goals. Common sense is checked at the door.
It's notable in Livermore that the coffee specialty shop that is closing is a location of the renown Starbucks.
The corporation that popularized the $4 coffee announced this month it will close 200 stores, including the one in Livermore in the Safeway/Orchard Supply Hardware shopping center downtown.
That news must have been celebrated by Panama Bay, Livermore's long-standing independent coffee shop, and Peet's, which refurbished an ancient building on South Livermore into a prime location. Peet's did the same thing in San Ramon.
Dublin and San Ramon residents living near the Camp Parks Army base will be delighted to know that camp commanders have received official notice to shut down the firing range.
The Army installed a state-of-the-art range a number of years ago when it decided to retain Camp Parks and update the facilities.
The weapons' noise has prompted occasional complaints from neighbors. Shutting down the range will take care of that issue, but there's always something.
Base commander Lt. Col. John Cushman attended the Dublin City Council meeting recently to respond to questions about the Friday night training exercise that involved helicopters the prior week.
The low-flying choppers at night drew the expected public concern since there wasn't widespread publicity before the event.
Cushman promised to do what he could to ensure earlier notification because training will happen again — it's why the base exists. Of course, he's a bit savvier about public affairs than most military types — his undergrad degree was in P.R.
Tim Hunt is the principal with Hunt Enterprises, a communications and government affairs firms. He is the former editor and associate publisher of the Tri-Valley Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.