A legal wrangling is settled over the cost of bringing recycling bins to the curb at multi-family buildings in Oakland, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Oakland City Council members on Tuesday afternoon approved a settlement following a lawsuit against California Waste Solutions. Lawyers for the city recovered about $6 million, which will be refunded to Oaklanders.

Residents will also start paying lower rates for service.

“Unjust and unfair dealing is unacceptable and will not stand!” City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement Wednesday.

Almost five years ago Oakland filed a suit against California Waste Solutions over the company’s recycling contract with the city.

The push/pull fee set by the company was far greater than the fee for the same service at single-family dwellings. Oakland tried to negotiate the fee with the company before filing suit, city attorneys said.

During litigation, city officials learned that the company overcharged customers by a total of about $6 million.

Overcharged Oakland customers will be told in the coming months of their eligibility for a refund and given information on how to get the refund.

The settlement also requires California Waste Solutions to lower its rates, so they are comparable with competitors and with what it charges other cities for service.

In the future, CWS will be using a cost-plus method to set its rates. Then its profits are a function of its costs, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

“After years of unnecessary dispute over the rate of a purely elective service, CWS is pleased that this matter can finally be put to rest and looks forward to continuing to work with the City in providing essential services to the residents of Oakland,” CWS spokesman Johnny Duong said.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.