As explained in Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 40970, cities and counties are authorized to form "regional agencies." Regional agencies (RA) are allowed to report program information and disposal numbers as one entity instead of by jurisdiction.
How to Become a Regional Agency
Jurisdictions form an RA by first forming a "Joint Powers Authority" (JPA), as allowed under Government Code section 6500 et seq. If jurisdictions already belong to a JPA for a specific purpose, such as funding landfill closure costs, the existing JPA can be expanded to meet the RA requirements, or an entirely new JPA can be established in order to form an RA. If cities and counties form a JPA to meet the six requirements of PRC Section 40975, then, after CalRecycle reviews and approves the JPA as meeting those requirements, the JPA can be considered an RA. A regional agency can submit annual reports, disposal reports, and other reporting data as one unit without reporting information for each jurisdiction. Time and money saved on reporting could be redirected toward implementing diversion programs.
The agreement to form the JPA must meet, at a minimum, all of the following provisions to be considered as an agreement to form an RA (PRC Section 40975):
- List the member jurisdictions and describe the RA, including the name and address.
- Describe the method by which any civil penalties imposed by CalRecycle will be allocated among the cities or counties that are members of the RA.
- Describe a contingency plan that shows how each city or county will comply with the planning and waste diversion requirements in the event that the RA is abolished.
- Describe the duties and responsibilities of each member jurisdiction demonstrating that the city or county will comply with the planning and waste diversion requirements.
- Describe the source reduction, recycling, and composting programs to be implemented by the RA. These programs shall be at least as effective in meeting the diversion requirements as those that each city or county has proposed in its source reduction and recycling element.
- Any other additional element as determined to be needed by the jurisdictions that are members of the RA.
What Should be Considered When Becoming a Regional Agency
Many factors should be considered before becoming a regional agency, some factors are political and some practical. For example, some cities may want to designate the RA to make political decisions on their behalf. In that case, members should consult with their legal counsels to discuss the costs and benefits and ensure the JPA agreement is written to specifically address the issue. If the members allow the JPA to approve planning documents on their behalf, it could reduce the time needed to prepare and submit plans to the Board by having one local approving body rather than several.
The section of a JPA that is difficult for most jurisdictions to agree on is the section discussing civil penalty allocations. The allocations can be assigned on a pro-rata basis by tonnage or population; however, whatever the jurisdictions agree on must clearly allocate civil penalties in the event CalRecycle imposes a financial penalty.
Also, when forming a RA, it helps to consider all the upcoming contracts for solid waste services that could be negotiated by the RA instead of individual member jurisdictions. Sometimes it is more cost-effective to have one entity manage solid waste projects than to have several smaller entities manage many projects. Every area that the jurisdictions wish to assign responsibility to the JPA, should be explicitly described in the agreement.
In summary, if jurisdictions find it beneficial to report and measure annual per capita disposal together, then a RA needs to be formed to do so. All roles of the RA and each member jurisdiction should be outlined in the agreement. Please contact your Local Assistance and Market Development representative early in your process so they can provide you guidance, including calculating your 50% equivalent per capita disposal target as an RA. If you have any further questions about regional agencies, contact your Local Assistance and Market Development representative or use the links below.