MONTEREY PARK — Residents will have to pay more for garbage disposal, after the City Council's decision to increase fees by 10%.
The council also introduced an ordinance proposing rate increases for water at Monday's meeting.
But for at least one council member, the fee hikes became a referendum on a more hotly contested issue: growth.
Before the vote on each increase, Councilman Barry Hatch seized the opportunity to underscore his call for controlled growth in the city. Although Hatch said he supports the increases, he voted against them to protest a council vote on density controls, which he said are too lax.
Earlier in the evening, the council had voted 3 to 2 to give final approval to new density standards, which were agreed upon last month at a long and sometimes heated meeting. Under those standards, development in R-3 areas, which permit the highest-density zoning, will be limited to 20 multifamily housing units per acre. Twenty-two units had been allowed under the old standards. Hatch said he believes 14 units should be the maximum.
"Some say this is an ethnic issue," Hatch said. "It is. All ethnic groups will benefit from having this community a bedroom community. I'm opposed to the continued development of condominiums."
The council voted 4 to 1 to approve a 10% increase in the monthly garbage-collection fees residents pay to the city. Effective immediately, single-family customers and condominium and apartment dwellers will pay $7.72 a month, up from $7.02, according to a staff report.
New fees for trash-bin customers, also to increase 10%, range from $90.20 to $301.05 a month, depending on the frequency of collection.
Rates Still Below Average
The higher rates reflect a 3.46% increase in fees Athens Disposal charges the city. But even with the fee hike, collection charges in Monterey Park will still be lower than the average $8.40 monthly bill for refuse collection in the San Gabriel Valley, said Helen Bell, director of management services.
Before casting the dissenting vote, Hatch said he knows that garbage collection fees must increase because of limited landfill space. But he said his negative vote was a way of protesting the council's decision on density changes, which he said are not enough to control growth.
The council on Monday also voted 3 to 2 to introduce an ordinance that would increase water rates by 2.6% to 22.8%, depending on how much water a customer uses. For example, the average single-family home, which uses 11,968 gallons of water a month, would pay $11.34, an increase of $1.28.
Hatch voted against that increase as well, explaining he did so to protest the "council's lack of concern in the area of condominiums."
Library Board Reinstated
Hatch also voted against re-establishing the Library Board of Trustees. The board, which sued the city after the council replaced it with a city-appointed commission, recently won a court ruling ordering reinstatement.
Mayor Pro Tem Judy Chu, whose husband, Michael Eng, is one of the reinstated board members, abstained on the vote.
In other matters, Hatch challenged a Planning Commission appointment in an apparent reference to Thomas Ono, who helped with Chu's campaign and whose wife was the campaign manager. During the meeting, Mayor Patricia Reichenberger had asked Hatch not to mention Ono or any other commission appointees by name.
"I see this as a special interest," Hatch said, adding that there were other applicants more qualified for the position.
But Councilwoman Betty Couch defended the appointment, saying, "I, for one, voted according to the best qualifications of the people."