Sanitary District Wants To Hear More...
Last night the Costa Mesa Sanitary District held its regular monthly meeting at a larger venue, the Neighborhood Community Center, in anticipation of a large crowd. They were correct.
More than forty people gathered to hear the deliberations of the current scheme to change the way we recycle so-called "Organics" - green waste and food scraps. There were two items on the subject on the agenda and, between the two, a half-dozen individuals rose to speak about them.
MANY NEW FACES
I saw many familiar faces in the crowd tonight, but some new ones, too. I've attended both of the workshops designed to provide information to the ratepayers and each one had a good turnout. More than 100 people have attended those meetings, plus the meeting last night. However, during her turn at the microphone, resident Beth Refakes reminded the Board that the turnout was still well short of their survey number last year, and suggested further outreach meetings to reach more ratepayers. Some would-be politicians attended, but stayed only long enough to be seen, then left.
MORELLO, AGAIN, TWICE
Resident Phil Morello, an owner of Westside rental units, spoke twice and continued to express concern that some of the details of the change had not yet been sufficiently fleshed out. He also expressed concern that the Costa Mesa Sanitary District was interested in being the first district to use this new technology/methodology.
FLO'S FOR THE CHANGE
Long-time resident Flo Martin addressed the Board, expressing support for this change. She told of using a 3-can system at another home she owns on the Central California Coast, indicating that not only was it NOT inconvenient, but that the community took great pride in their recycling efforts.
WAITING A MONTH
After hearing all the speakers and discussing the issue among themselves, the Board decided to shove the decision on the new process off until their meeting late in February. In the meantime, more workshops would be held, hopefully in different parts of the City, so more ratepayers can hear the story and offer input. That meeting will likely be held on February 25th at a venue to be determined.
I've heard the presentation - twice. I've asked questions and heard others concerns and the responses to them. Yes, there are still some nagging details to be addressed, but none should be deal-breakers. This change, which puts the Sanitary District at the forefront of new waste handling technology, marked what certainly appears to be an inevitable step. The state is mandating severely greater percentages of recycling - from 50% to 75% - and no more landfills will be permitted. This change will cost just over $500,000 per year to the district - and, thus, to the ratepayers. The Board will have to decide how to cover those costs. Current surplus could be used to smooth the transition for a few years.
...AND THE RATE GUARANTEE
We are guaranteed by CR&R Environmental Services that we will have the lowest rates. If they bid this kind of project to another city or district at a lower rate, the CMSD will receive that rate, too.
I UNDERSTAND THE TRUCK TRAFFIC...
Concerns were expressed about the number of truck trips throughout the city. That question was finally answered to my satisfaction. Instead of a 9-truck fleet picking up our trash now, there would be 10. Six will pick up the regular trash and four, the Organics. The increase in truck miles would be about 10%.
...AND THE "MULTIPLE CARTS" ISSUE
Still unresolved is the need for multiple "carts" on trash day. It is most acute in multi-unit situation - like Morello's - but those will be handled on a case-by-case basis. AND, people can simply opt out of the program and continue to handle their trash the way they do now. That seems impractical in the long-term, but it's possible under this system.
COSTA MESA BRIEF ON THE JOB
Old Barry Friedland was on hand last night to tape the meeting. You'll soon be able to watch it at Costa Mesa Brief on YouTube, along with the previous workshop. He's doing a good job and his videos are worth a watch if you have the time.
MORE OUTREACH SCHEDULED
I'm glad the Board chose to do a little more outreach. I hope people will view the presentations that are available on the District web site, HERE and HERE. I also hope they will attend the future workshops and/or send their questions and concerns to the General Manager, Scott Carroll.
THE BOARD SHOULD GIVE THUMBS UP NEXT MONTH
Based on what I have been told so far, I think this step is inevitable and worthy of doing it right and being among the first to take advantage of this giant technological step - even if it means I have to change the way I scrape the debris off my dinner plate. The remaining unresolved questions are going to be addressed, hopefully to everyone's satisfaction. I expect the Board will vote to approve this new step and the contract involved the end of next month. If they soften the impact on each ratepayer by using some of their reserves to do so, all the better.