Big Changes Planned For Your Trash(Amended)***
BIG CHANGE PROPOSED
Last week, on Thursday evening, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board of Directors met to discuss, among other things, the proposal from long time and current trash hauler CR&R, to make a VERY big change in the way Costa Mesa's trash is handled, from your house until it is deposited somewhere in perpetuity. You can read the agenda item HERE, and I hope you will.
DAILY PILOT ON THE JOB
Bradley Zint, in the Daily Pilot, gave us all a heads-up, HERE, and then reported on the meeting, HERE. We do appreciate his coverage - he apparently was the only person other than the board and staff in the room for the meeting.
As you see, the original proposal was supposed to cost $487,000 and change... the actual proposal discussed at the meeting is for over $500,000!
More than the money, this change significantly impacts every one of us who are ratepayers of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District. If implemented, it will mean that we will now be required to do a preliminary sort of our trash before it's picked up. Right now we just throw everything - green waste, food residue, paper, plastic, metal - whatever - into the carts provided, they get picked up by CR&R once a week and we just forget about it.
In actuality, all that debris of our daily lives would then be taken to a transfer station in Stanton where it is sorted. The recyclables get culled out, bundled and sold. The green waste gets set aside to be used as a kind of "topper" at the landfill. The rest of what's left gets hauled off to the landfill.
TURNING TRASH INTO FUEL
Under the new proposal, green waste and other "organics" will be placed in a special cart and the "trash" in another. These two different carts would be picked up by two different trucks - probably on the same day - which means twice as much trash truck traffic in our neighborhoods. Both trucks go to Stanton where the recyclables from the "trash" cans are handled the same way. Whatever is left gets hauled to the landfill. However, the "organics" get transferred to bigger trucks and will be hauled down to Perris where that debris will be turned into fuel using a process involving anaerobic digestion, which will fuel the trash trucks. None of that green waste will go to landfills, which is the whole objective of the new state mandates that are driving this change. We're supposed to do this by 2020, but CR&R wants us to implement it by 2015... and they want us to pony up a half-billion dollars more each year to do it.
FITZY AND ROB
Angry, disgruntled and marginally coherent ousted former Sanitary District Director Jim Fitzpatrick - back on the Costa Mesa Planning Commission acting as Chairman, again launched into one of his rants about the sanitary district contracts in a commentary in the Daily Pilot, HERE. Joining in the fun is the parrot on his shoulder, his conjoined twin, Planning Commission Vice Chairman Rob Dickson, squawking away, echoing Jimmy Fitzy's drivel. I suspect you'll enjoy the thread.
POOR JOB OF COMMUNICATING
I'm friendly with several members of the Sanitary District Board, some closer than others. That being said, in my view the way this was handled is pathetic. It's my understanding that there have been nine meetings at which this was discussed and I don't recall any kind of public outreach. I try to pay attention to this stuff, but if there was anything announced about this meeting it got past me. Only Zint's first article alerted me to it. While Fitzpatrick's petulant rant was predictable and Dickson's pandering echo was, as well, the Board needed to do a much better communicating with the community on this.
PUBLIC OUTREACH PLANNED
As I understand the issue now, this has been shoved out until after the new year and at least one - maybe more - public meetings will be held at a venue large enough to handle a sizable turnout. The district board room is unsatisfactory for this kind of event. At that meeting the staff and board members will explain to the public EXACTLY what is being proposed and, in layman's terms, why it is necessary and what it will cost us. According to the reports I've read and conversations I've had with people in the know, this change is inevitable.
SAME OLD, SAME OLD...
Fitzpatrick and Dickson included their old refrain about not putting the whole contract out to bid, stating that the contract has basically been with the same outfit, or it's successors, since WWII - a true story. They opine that the ratepayers are somehow getting the shaft because of this arrangement. I don't think that's the case at all.
From personal experience - I have a relative in the trash hauling business and we talk about it from time to time (No, he's not involved with CR&R and would not be a bidder for the Costa Mesa business) - I do know that long-term contracts are the norm in the trash business. The equipment and capital infrastructure necessary to handle trash is very significant and haulers MUST have long term contracts to cover their equipment costs. For example, every hauler recently had to covert to CNG engines - a very significant expense.
So, I'm waiting to hear about the meeting (s) the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board plans to host to inform the public BEFORE the vote is taken on this issue. I'm trusting the collective judgment of the board to make the right decisions on this issue. You know - those folks who reduced our trash rates twice over the past couple years.