vote_lede_template.jpgA measure seeking to overhaul San Francisco’s waste collection process was roundly rejected by the city’s voters in today’s election.

Proposition A, which would have required that San Francisco’s waste services be put up for competitive bidding, was rejected by about 77 percent of the city’s voters, according to unofficial election results.

Proponents of Proposition A argued that the city’s current garbage company, Recology, has a monopoly and sought to set up competitive bidding for five different aspects of the services it provides.

If it had passed, separate contracts would have been established for residential collection, commercial collection, recovery and processing of recyclable materials, transfer and transportation of the residual waste and disposal or conversion of that waste.

The initiative’s defeat came as no surprise to community activist Tony Kelly, who, along with retired Judge Quentin Kopp, was one of the primary backers of the measure.

“We’ve all heard of David and Goliath, and the reason we’ve heard of it is because it’s one of the few times Goliath lost,” Kelly said. “Goliath won today.”

Kelly said the $220 million that Recology receives annually from city ratepayers could have been reduced by as much as 25 percent through competitive bidding, citing a 2011 report that found that San Francisco was the only Bay Area city without a franchise agreement with its garbage company.

However, the No on A campaign, funded primarily by Recology, argued that Proposition A would have thrown into turmoil a system that most San Franciscans are happy with.

Tonight’s results are “a pretty clear indication that the voters want to continue this special partnership with Recology,” said Jordan Curley, campaign manager for No on A.

“We have the most successful system in the country and there’s no reason to mess with it,” Curley said.

An overwhelming majority of San Francisco’s elected officials came out against the proposal, including several city supervisors and various state legislators including state Sens. Mark Leno and Leland Yee.

The only other local measure on San Francisco’s ballot, Proposition B, appears to have passed, with support from about 54 percent of voters. The measure is non-binding and encourages the city to limit commercial activities at Coit Tower.

Proponents gathered signatures to get the measure on the ballot after the city issued a request last year for proposals by contractors to lease and operate the elevator, food and beverage concession stands and gift shop at the tower, which is visited by more than 200,000 people annually.

Along with leasing operations at the tower, the city would also allow contractors to hold private, late-night parties there, but Proposition B calls for strict limits on such events, and for revenue gained from the tower to be spent on preservation of the tower’s historic murals.

The San Francisco Parks Alliance, one of the groups opposing the measure, argued that revenue from the tower should also go toward other aspects of the city’s park and recreation system.

Two weeks before today’s election, Mayor Ed Lee announced the creation of a $1.7 million fund for repair and restoration of the tower following the release of a report commissioned by the city that detailed the condition of the murals and the structure of the tower.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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