After receiving hundreds of complaints about missed garbage pickups, the city's new trash hauler apologized to the City Council this week and said garbage trucks are now running on schedule.
"The city contracted with us to do a good job," said BFI Industries District Manager Mike Koep, "and that is what we're going to do."
Garbage piled up on some neighborhood curbs for as many as three days starting over the Labor Day weekend, BFI's first week on the job.
Homeowners complained that wild animals were getting into their trash, and apartment complex owners called City Hall to describe piles of refuse rotting in their waste bins.
"Our garbage sat there for three days under 97-degree heat," said Ted Cotora, who owns a 172-unit complex. "It got to be a little stinky."
Cotora and several other Mission Viejo residents also said they never received notification of the change in trash haulers or when their garbage would be picked up.
Koep said the problems occurred because the company underestimated the number of households in Mission Viejo. The holiday weekend caused garbage trucks to lose another day.
"As soon as we realized there was a problem, we sent out 25 extra trucks," Koep said. "Some of our people worked until 9:30 at night."
Privately, several Mission Viejo officials have criticized the company for not responding more quickly and not being well-prepared.
But in public on Monday, the council accepted Koep's assertion that trash pickups are back on schedule.