Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking: Governor Brown Vetoes SB 833

Governor Jerry Brown Upholds The Will of San Diego County Voters
Governor’s Veto Encourages Responsible Growth That Protects and Respects the Environment

Sacramento, CA – Gregory Canyon Landfill spokesperson Nancy Chase issued the following statement Monday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of SB 833, by Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

“Governor Jerry Brown rejected politics as usual and respected the will of San Diego County voters by vetoing SB 833.  This unnecessary and costly special interest legislation would have circumvented San Diego community leaders, environmental regulators and the courts by blocking a much needed infrastructure project. It would have stalled California’s fragile economic recovery and blocked hundreds of high-paying jobs the region desperately needs.

“The Gregory Canyon landfill is strongly supported by San Diego County voters, community advocates and elected officials because they know it will be one of the most environmentally protected disposal sites in the country, a state-of-the-art project that both protects and respects the environment.

“After nearly 20 years of scientific studies, detailed research and sophisticated planning, the Gregory Canyon project is on track to become the most technologically advanced facility of its kind, establishing a new era in waste management. We’re eager to move forward and provide San Diego County with the state-of-the-art facility it deserves and the waste capacity it needs to stimulate future economic growth.

“We applaud Gov. Brown for studying the facts and respecting the will of San Diego County voters, who have overwhelmingly supported the Gregory Canyon Landfill project during two separate countywide elections. His veto will promote responsible job creation and allow a project to move forward that protects California’s environment and respects culturally sensitive sites. 

--Nancy Chase, Gregory Canyon Landfill spokesperson

San Diego County voters supported the Gregory Canyon landfill project twice at the polls, in 1994 and 2004.  It has been upheld in court on 19 separate occasions and received permit approval from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and CalRecycle.

Legislation similar to SB 833 was vetoed by Governor Gray Davis in 2000. Governor Davis vetoed 
AB 2752, saying he was “loath to overturn a vote of the electorate and the decision of two courts of law.” 
Read his full message here.
The Gregory Canyon Landfill is located along SR76, 3 ½ miles east of Interstate 15.  The state-of-the-art project will incorporate an unprecedented double-liner system with five containment layers, which will ensure protection of groundwater and surface water.  The 1,770-acre project also includes at least 1,461 acres of permanently preserved habitat, an on-site habitat creation and enhancement area of 212 acres, and about 350 acres of off-site permanently preserved habitat.

North San Diego County has not had a landfill since the closure of the San Marcos Landfill in the late 1990’s.  A local site serving north San Diego County is expected to reduce traffic impacts throughout the County by up to one million vehicle miles each year.  In addition to economic savings to consumers through increased competition and lower transportation costs, the project will help reduce traffic congestion and energy consumption.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Response to NRDC Misleading and Inaccurate Statements


The statements made below by the NRDC are, at best, misleading and at worst are not based on established facts.  Those facts have been completely documented and vetted through the California Court system. The Local Enforcement Agency, (LEA) which in this case is the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, (DEH) has issued the Solid Waste Facility Permit and that action has been confirmed by Cal Recycle, which is the agency of the Governor’s Administration charged with that responsibility. Those actions have in every way refuted and dismissed all of the allegations listed below and have affirmed that the mitigation measures required by the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the permits issued and affirmed will mitigate appropriately for the impacts associated with the landfill. The NRDC and other opponents have chosen to employ outrageous tactics in order to mislead the California Legislature into thinking they should vote to support SB 833.
Statement by NRDC:
You should sign this bill because it will block the construction of a 300-acre garbage dump that would threaten the San Luis Rey River, desecrate one of the most important sacred sites of the LuiseƱo people, jeopardize a vital imported water pipeline, and destroy wildlife habitat.

The landfill footprint is more than 1300 feet south of the San Luis River and has been designed to ensure that no potential contamination could reach the river or the aquifer associated with it. The project has committed to a  double composite liner consisting of five barrier layers, three of which are impermeable membranes, and two of which are geoseynthetic liners, and a standby groundwater treatment plant if ever needed.  This design exceeds exponentially all federal and state requirements for landfill liners.

Claims of destruction to the San Luis Rey River and its underlying water supply aquifer are grossly exaggerated, as noted by Dr. David Huntley, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, who stated “I am unaware of any alluvial aquifer which has been contaminated by releases to an adjacent fractured rock aquifer.”  One of the key stated purposes for the legislation finds no credible scientific support.

The landfill site (182 acres) and its facilities (126 acres) on a 1769 acre site will, in the final design, not be within 1000 feet of any known or objectively verifiable sacred site. Landfill opponents did not challenge the finding in the EIR that the project had no significant impacts on any Native American resources based on objective measures.  Despite two attempts, the National Park Service declined to find either Gregory Mountain or Medicine Rock eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

With regard to the County Water Authority’s (CWA) water pipeline the EIR provided for the relocation of the pipeline in order to avoid any impacts to the pipe itself, and that mitigation measure will be implemented if determined to be necessary with the concurrence of the CWA staff.

The best source to refute the misstatement “destroy wildlife habitat” is to refer to the 2009 USFWS Draft Biological Opinion which stated expressly that the implementation of the landfill project and its mitigations will improve water quality and “support the recovery” of the three threatened or endangered species present on the site.      

Statement by NRDC:
The landfill developer circumvented the normal siting and approval process with a ballot initiative, so that no elected official has had the opportunity to vote on the proposed project.

Every elected official in San Diego County, for that matter anywhere, if put to the test of whether to find the political will to site a landfill or allow the people to have the opportunity to make that decision will, if given the opportunity, follow the will of the voters. This is especially true when the voters have spoken clearly not once but twice. It is important to note here that in 2004 the opponents spent almost $6,000,000 trying to get the voters to reject the landfill and lost by a landslide. It is not possible to believe what opponents have said that the voters were mislead when their spending greatly exceeded the amount spent by the developers defending our project.  San Diego County tried without success to site a new landfill in the County for more than 2 decades and it was well understood by the community that asking elected officials to make that difficult choice would not end successfully. Voter approval is the only viable mechanism available in San Diego County to make these difficult land use decisions. 

Statement by NRDC:
The ballot initiative overrode the county supervisors’ objections to the proposed site, took away the county’s discretionary authority to deny the project, and misled the voters by describing the dump as a recycling and collection center.

The answer to this assertion is similar to the previous response except that the Board of Supervisors did make a formal vote to select Gregory Canyon as a desirable site for a landfill in North San Diego County and the public voted (twice) to support that decision.

NRDC’s claim regarding the lack of discretionary authority is a misstatement of the law. The Director of the County Department of Environmental Health had the discretionary authority to deny the project by declining to adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations.

With regard to the recycling and collection center, this landfill is conditioned by the Solid Waste Permit to provide for the collection and recycling of all materials that by law are not allowed to be disposed of in any landfill except for hazardous waste for which there are existing available facilities.

Statement by NRDC: 
There is no waste crisis in San Diego County. Waste disposal has decreased by 25% since 2005. Increased recycling, new technologies for the resource-efficient management of waste, and the expansion of existing landfills make the proposed landfill unnecessary.

The NRDC has once again misrepresented the facts.  As would be expected in a recession the amount of waste in San Diego County has declined countywide; however, two factors have been purposely omitted from this claim. First, it is understood that as we come out of recession the volume of waste requiring disposal will return; and second, North San Diego County actually increased the amount of waste disposed of in landfills by 6 % during the recession even though there was a countywide decline.  From the beginning, both Proposition C and the EIR made it clear that for primary purposes for the Gregory Canyon Landfill was to provide close-in, cost effective disposal capacity for North County. Without this North County facility, up to 1,000,000 extra truck miles will be necessary to dispose of North County trash.

No other landfill is proposed for North County, and the use of another landfill at a greater distance poses its own set of environmental concerns, namely traffic, air quality, use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.  Moreover, it is likely that NRDC or other environmental groups will, when the time comes, mount severe and direct opposition to said expansions, making their implementation less than certain.   

Statement by NRDC:
EPA has concluded all landfill liners eventually leak. Moreover, the multi-layer liner for the landfill only covers 20% of the bottom of the landfill. It would be irresponsible to needlessly place our drinking water supply in harm’s way.

This statement is a gross misrepresentation of what the EPA has said about landfill liners. The EPA did say in 1981 that all landfills leak; however that statement applied to unlined landfills. Subsequent to that statement the EPA has promulgated regulations for landfill liners “designed to be protective in all locations” that will protect water resources well beyond the life of the landfill. Moreover, Gregory Canyon Landfill has exponentially exceeded even these requirements and, as described in a previous paragraph, has provided a backup water treatment system, hence no endangerment of the water supply.

The statement about the liner system is factually incorrect, and ignores standard engineering practices.  In fact, a multi-level liner underlies 100% of the landfill footprint. The design of the side liner is different from the bottom liner, to reflect the lesser potential for release of contaminants from sloped areas.  This is a standard engineering practice approved throughout the state by Regional Water Boards.  Remember there are strict federal and state guidelines for groundwater protection and the landfill design exceeds them all.   

Statement by NRDC:
“A dozen local, state and federal agencies” have not said that the project complies with environmental regulations. Nor have those agencies granted permits. GCL has obtained only one permit – its solid waste facility permit from the San Diego county local enforcement agency.

The project has never stated that “A dozen local, state, and federal agencies” have said the project complies with environmental regulations. The project holds the Solid Waste Facility Permit SWFP issued by the LEA and reviewed and agreed to by Cal Recycle. This is a new permit that replaces the original SWFP issued in 2005.  The permit is based upon the certified EIR for which the LEA is the “Lead Agency” The project holds the NPDES permit from the State Water Resources Board and a Streambed Alteration Permit from the California Department of Fish & Game. We have reached the final stages on other Regional Water Quality Control Board permits as well as the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District permit. All of these permits are based upon the EIR mitigation measures as well as local, state and federal regulations. The main regulatory permit is the SWFP, which is the mechanism by which all EIR mitigation measures are enforced.

Statement by NRDC:   
The bill had strong bipartisan support and passed with overwhelming margins in both houses, the reasonable thing for Governor Brown to do is agree with representatives from across California to protect sacred sites and San Diego County’s drinking water.

The only reason the opposition has brought this legislation forward now is because they realize we are very close to obtaining all the necessary permits to be able to build the landfill. This is a clear end run around the state regulatory agencies, such as CalRecycle, the Regional Water Board and the Department of Fish & Game. It is very cynical of the opponents to push through the legislature a bill to kill this project after 17 years of very careful and diligent legal and regulatory study that will very likely reach the conclusion that the project is appropriate and safe. How can the legislature be expected to comprehend the 17 years of work in a matter of a few minutes of review and testimony and make a reasonable decision? The answer is, of course, relentless political and financial pressure from ruthless opponents who will say or do anything to produce the votes they need to mislead the legislature and now the Governor into supporting this bill.  Equally disturbing is that the legislature simply ignores the hard work and sound technical judgment of many highly trained and skilled local, state and federal officials over many years.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

California State Assembly Vote Will Kill Jobs

Sacramento, CA – Gregory Canyon Landfill spokesperson Nancy Chase issued the following statement Wednesday regarding the California State Assembly’s passage of SB 833 by Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego).

“California State lawmakers publicly claim to support job creation and routinely issue statements touting the need for new jobs --yet they continue to cast disturbing votes that do just the opposite.

Today the Assembly passed another job killing measure, SB 833 by Sen. Juan Vargas, (D-San Diego), which attempts to block a much needed construction project that would bring hundreds of high paying jobs to San Diego County.  

The Assembly’s passage of SB 833 sends an alarming message to more than two-million unemployed Californians who are counting on lawmakers to help create jobs, not destroy them. Today’s vote shows that even in this fragile economy, the California State Assembly considers big money special interests more important than struggling working families.

SB 833 is now on its way to Governor Brown’s desk. We hope he will protect California jobs and veto this unnecessary special interest legislation.”  

--Nancy Chase, Gregory Canyon Landfill spokesperson

Gregory Canyon will be one of the most environmentally protected landfills in the country, establishing a new era for technologically advanced waste management facilities.  After nearly 20 years of development, the project has received two overwhelming public votes of support in two separate countywide elections. It has received permit approval from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and CalRecycle.

Legislation similar to SB 833 was vetoed by Governor Gray Davis in 2000. Governor Davis vetoed AB 2752,
saying he was “loath to overturn a vote of the electorate and the decision of two courts of law.” 
Read his full message here.
The Gregory Canyon Landfill is located along SR76, 3 ½ miles east of Interstate 15.  The state-of-the-art project will incorporate an unprecedented double-liner system with five containment layers, which will ensure protection of groundwater and surface water.  The 1,770-acre project also includes at least 1,461 acres of permanently preserved habitat, an on-site habitat creation and enhancement area of 212 acres, and about 350 acres of off-site permanently preserved habitat.

North San Diego County has not had a landfill since the closure of the San Marcos Landfill in the late 1990’s.  A local site serving north San Diego County is expected to reduce traffic impacts throughout the County by up to one million vehicle miles each year.  In addition to economic savings to consumers through increased competition and lower transportation costs, the project will help reduce traffic congestion and energy consumption.


Friday, August 5, 2011

San Diego County Department of Environmental Health issues Solid Waste Facility Permit to Gregory Canyon Landfill

View the Decision Document here: Solid Waste Facility Permit

Oceanside City Councilmember Gary Felien: Oceanside stands against special interest

North County Times Forum
By: Oceanside City Councilmember Gary Felien
August 2, 2011

At our last meeting, three members of the Oceanside City Council took a stand against powerful special interests and stood up to protect the will of the people.

On July 6, the Oceanside City Council voted 3-2 to oppose SB 833 by Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), taking an official stand against unnecessary and dangerous legislation that attempts to overrule the will of Oceanside and San Diego County voters.

SB 833 is a blatant attempt by Sacramento politicians to intrude in local affairs, by stepping in at the last minute to block an approved landfill project that Oceanside and San Diego County voters supported overwhelmingly at the polls in two separate landslide elections.

SB 833 targets the Gregory Canyon Landfill, which is one of the most exhaustively studied and thoroughly researched projects of its kind. After 17 years of detailed planning and scientific review, this state-of-the-art facility has received multiple permits from some of the strictest environmental regulators in the nation. After studying the facts, scientific experts determined that Gregory Canyon presents no threat to local waterways or the underground aquifer and could in fact set new national standards when it becomes one of the most environmentally protected landfills in the country.

The facts, science and data support Gregory Canyon, which is why project opponents are now circumventing the legal approval process and resorting to dirty politics to try to block it.

SB 833 is a dangerous, job-killing bill that sets a chilling precedent. It sends a message to businesses across the country that in California, companies are punished for playing by the rules and project approval depends on pay-to-play politicians.

The Gregory Canyon Landfill should be approved or denied based on its merits, not special-interest politics. As local elected officials, we shouldn't allow out-of-town politicians to bully local voters, community leaders and elected representatives who have overwhelmingly supported this project on multiple occasions.

I'm proud to be part of a City Council that took a stand against special-interest politics and stood up for what is right. I'm now hoping the state Legislature will do the same.

 Gary Felien is a member of the Oceanside City Council.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gregory Canyon Landfill wins state approval

Long way still to go before construction might start

By J. Harry Jones, San Diego Union Tribune
July 15, 2011

— A state agency that oversees trash dumps has agreed with San Diego County that a critical permit needed to build the Gregory Canyon landfill in rural North County should be issued.

The decision, released Friday afternoon by CalRecycle, represents the culmination of more than a decade of effort by Gregory Canyon Ltd., the private developer of the project that has invested nearly 20 years and more than $60 million into the plans. The landfill would be located east of Interstate 15 just south of state Route 76 near the San Luis Rey River and Pala.

The state agency agreed with an earlier decision by the county’s Department of Environmental Health that the benefits of the landfill outweigh the problems it could create.

However, as has been true throughout the long battle to get the landfill built, the issuance of the permit does not mean the dump will be constructed any time soon.

Opponents will appeal the solid waste facilities permit, county officials have been told, and therefore it will not be issued until after a public hearing has been held sometime in the next three months. Plus the developer still needs to obtain four other independent permits from various local, state and federal agencies before construction can begin.

Complicating matters further, legislation in Sacramento that could quash the landfill plans is still pending. Should Senate Bill 833, sponsored by Sen. Juan Vargas, be approved and signed by the governor later this year, it would stop the project in its tracks. That would most likely then lead to a lawsuit by Gregory Canyon Ltd., which has insisted it will not give up because it has too much time and money invested.

“We’re pleased with the latest approval from CalRecycle in one of the most scrutinized projects in the history of the state. This will allow us to move forward to build the most environmentally safe landfill in the United States,” said Gregory Canyon Ltd. Spokeswoman Nancy Chase.

Friday, July 8, 2011

CalRecycle Issues Staff Recommendation Regarding Gregory Canyon Solid Waste Facility Permit

CalRecycle staff recommends that the Acting Director consider the FEIR and RFEIR and other environmental documents, adopt the LEA’s findings respecting the project’s significant impacts as the Department’s own, adopt the LEA’s Statement of Overriding Considerations as the Department’s own and concur in the proposed solid waste facilities permit. 

Click to read the full report: CalRecycle Staff Report

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gregory Canyon Landfill challenge dismissed

San Diego Union Tribune
June 22, 2011

PALA — A state agency has dismissed a challenge made by opponents of the long-sought Gregory Canyon landfill  in rural North County, saying that a recent decision to recommend the issuance of a Solid Waste Permit by San Diego County was based on a sound and legally complete application.

That recommendation must still be approved by Cal Recycle, the state agency that oversees landfill development.

Just last week a lawsuit was filed by opponents of the landfill challenging the county’s decision, a move that almost guarantees another delay of the project, which has been in development for nearly two decades.

The landfill would be built about three miles east of Interstate 15 just south of state Route 76 in a canyon west of Gregory Mountain. Several environmental groups concerned about the effect a trash dump might have on the San Luis Rey River, and the Pala Indians, whose reservation lies just to the east, have been fighting the plans since the 1990s.

The challenge to the county’s approval of the permit came from the Pala Indians who maintain the landfill would be built near sacred land.

To complicate matters further, a bill in Sacramento that would prohibit building landfills near a river or near sacred Indian sites is working its way through the Legislature this summer. If it passes and is signed by the governor, it to would likely become the subject of a lawsuit by Gregory Canyon Ltd., the would-be developers who have spent more than $60 million on the project already.

The developers have said they are committed to the project and have worked too hard to ever give up.

Even with the issuance of a Solid Waste Permit, several other key permits are still needed before construction could begin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

State Agency Decision Favors Gregory Canyon Landfill

PRESS RELEASE                                       
June 20, 2011

State Agency Decision Favors Gregory Canyon Landfill
CalRecycle Declares Landfill Permit to be “Complete and Correct”

San Diego, CA- The Gregory Canyon Landfill project cleared another regulatory hurdle when the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) ruled that the project’s Solid Waste Facility Permit application satisfactorily addresses all application requirements. CalRecycle’s decision to declare the Gregory Canyon Landfill application “complete and correct” is yet another affirmation that this waste management project has met all the regulatory hurdles required to provide San Diego County residents with the most environmentally protected landfill in the country – one that sets a new standard of excellence.

“CalRecycle’s decision is one more affirmation that the Gregory Canyon Landfill project meets and even exceeds all environmental requirements,” said project manager Jim Simmons. “The Gregory Canyon Landfill design will both respect and restore the surrounding environment, while providing San Diego County residents with the low-cost, long-term waste management solution they need,” Simmons continued.

“After more than 20 years of scientific scrutiny and innovative engineering, the project launch date is finally near.  We are eager to begin.  The sooner we start, the sooner we can create a state-of-the-art landfill that will be a model for the rest of the country – a project that preserves nearby lands while creating hundreds of new jobs for San Diego County residents.”

CalRecycle’s June 16th decision was in response to a regulatory challenge by the Pala Band of Mission Indians, which had appealed a decision by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health in its capacity as Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).  On May 13, 2011, the LEA issued a Solid Waste Facility Permit for the Gregory Canyon Landfill after determining the application was “complete and correct.” The Pala Band of Mission Indians challenged the LEA’s “complete and correct” declaration on 13-points, but CalRecyle rejected each charge and stated that the “relevant evidence and administrative record are not in dispute.”  The application submitted by Gregory Canyon Landfill provided an extensive body of scientific evidence and detailed engineering plans to ensure the project offers the highest level of environmental protection possible.

CalRecycle’s next step is to rule whether to “concur” with the LEA’s permit decision, a ruling is expected by July 13th, 2011.

Gregory Canyon Landfill has been in development for more than 20-years and received two overwhelming public votes of support in two separate countywide elections, in 1994 and 2004.

The Gregory Canyon Landfill is located along SR76, 3 ½ miles east of Interstate 15.  The project has incorporated an unprecedented double liner system with five containment layers, which will ensure protection of groundwater and surface water.  The 1,770-acre project will also include at least 1,461 acres of permanently preserved habitat, an on-site habitat creation and enhancement area of 212 acres, and about 350 acres of off-site permanently preserved habitat.

North San Diego County has not had a landfill since the closure of the San Marcos Landfill in the late 1990’s.  A local site serving north San Diego County is expected to reduce traffic impacts throughout the County by up to one million vehicle miles each year. In addition to economic savings to consumers through increased competition and lower transportation costs, the project will help reduce traffic congestion and energy consumption.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dan Walters: Legislature blithely interferes with local decision-making

Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee
June 3, 2011 Page 3A

While state legislators pay lip service to local decision-making, they also claim a divine right to intervene in local conflicts by siding with one faction or the other, even when it means overturning ordinary governmental and legal processes.

Sen. Juan Vargas, who made it back into the Legislature last year by the skin of his teeth, embraces that dubious, time-dishonored practice with measures that would intervene in two local development flaps.

The one-time San Diego assemblyman defeated fellow Democrat Mary Salas by just 22 votes after one of the hardest fought and most expensive legislative primary contests in California history. He then coasted to an easy win in the November election in the heavily Democratic 40th Senate District, which sprawls along the state's southern border, and may run for Congress next year.

Business groups poured money into Vargas' campaign while Salas was favored by labor unions and other elements of the party establishment. And one of her financial supporters was the California Tribal Business Alliance, a coalition of casino-owning Indian tribes.

However, one Vargas bill, Senate Bill 833, takes the side of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, one of those casino-owning tribes, in a bitter fight over a 308-acre landfill disposal site in San Diego County called Gregory Canyon.

Gregory Canyon Ltd. has been working nearly two decades to secure multiple state and local permits – including two successful ballot measure campaigns – and establish the site over the objections of the Pala Band and some environmental groups. In 2000, then-Gov. Gary Davis vetoed a bill to block the project.

The firm was on the cusp of final approval when Vargas stepped in with SB 833, which would block the project and thus give a win to the tribe and other project opponents who had lost in other arenas.

Meanwhile, another Vargas bill, SB 469, inserts the state into a long-running controversy in San Diego over development of "superstores" by Walmart and other big retailers, taking the side of grocery store unions and Walmart's competitors who were losing at the local level. The measure would require such stores to undergo economic-impact analyses, giving opponents more legal ammunition.

A city ordinance once required such analyses but Walmart qualified a ballot measure to challenge the law and the city rescinded it. Now Vargas wants to make it state law – very selectively, because his bill would apply to Walmart but exempt Costco and similar stores.

It should be bothersome that legislators who can't balance the budget or otherwise perform their legitimate duties would blithely interfere with years of exhaustively detailed permitting procedures, as the Gregory Canyon bill would do, or overturn local land-use processes, as the Walmart bill would do.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gregory Canyon landfill wins county approval

Sen. Vargas attempts a landfill end run

Friday, April 29, 2011 at midnight

A last-ditch attempt to kill the Gregory Canyon landfill in North County is before the Legislature in the form of a poorly crafted bill being carried for moneyed special interests.

Senate Bill 833 by Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, would prohibit a landfill within 1,000 feet of the San Luis River or contributing aquifer, or within a site that is considered sacred or of cultural importance by an Indian tribe. The Pala Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino nearby, opposes the landfill.

This is bad legislation. The state has no business getting involved in such a local or regional issue.
This bill would trump the will of the voters who overwhelmingly approved the landfill twice.

It would negate almost 20 years of effort to establish a much-needed landfill for North County, which lacks a facility of its own and must truck 850,000 tons of material a year as far away as Arizona.

Vargas’ bill would usurp the authority of a host of regulatory agencies that have spent the bulk of two decades in considering the landfill and ensuring public safeguards are in place.

Conveniently, this legislation sets a vague definition of “sacred site,” leaving that to the interpretation of an opposing tribe. There is no mention that the county did a detailed analysis of potential impacts on Indian culture and concluded that there are none that could be objectively verified. Or that the tribe did not challenge the accuracy of the finding.

This is the second time this year that Vargas has attempted to thwart local processes by doing an end run in the Legislature and carrying a bill for deep-pocketed special interests. He introduced an anti-Walmart bill that would require economic impact analyses as part of the permitting process. This came after the San Diego City Council rescinded a similar ordinance rather than pay the costs of an election for the public to decide.

Gregory Canyon has been fought and re-fought. Two public votes, 17 years of studies, public hearings and public input. Litigation at virtually every step of the way.

The proposed landfill is in the final stages of obtaining permits from the Air Pollution Control District, the Regional Water Quality Control District and the Army Corps of Engineers, all probably this year.

The landfill site is high above the San Luis Rey River and state Route 76, three miles east of Interstate 15. Besides extensive runoff collection and subdrain systems, the trash repository would be covered by 12 layers of soil, gravel, clay and synthetic liners.

The will of the people should not be thwarted by legislative decree on behalf of a well-financed special interest. Vargas’ bill is due for a hearing Monday before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, among the seven members. That is where the bill deserves to die.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crash tax, Escondido cuts, Grantville, disabled parking, Oceanside raises, landfill

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Crash cost recovery hardly double taxation

“Vista halts plans for crash tax” (SignOn San Diego, March 23) shows how a campaign by an insurers group has successfully made the issue politically toxic.

Everyone seems to accept the cost recovery as double taxation argument being promoted by an insurers association. Yet anyone who knows budgets and property tax revenue knows the argument does not apply in California, where Proposition 13 does not allow a local government unit to raise property taxes to meet anticipated budget needs. The commentary “It’s a sneaky route to double taxation” (Dialog, March 13) failed to look at Proposition 13’s implications. In Oceanside, property taxes don’t even cover police and fire personnel costs. -- Lizbeth Altman, Oceanside


East County facing a transient problem

East County does not have a “homelessness” problem so much as a “transients” problem (“Homeless survey shows affordable housing need,” East County, March 24). Often, an unemployed, low-skilled individual from another state was “invited” to the San Diego area by a family member with the baseless hope of finding quick employment. When that doesn’t happen, the host asks the visitor to move on.

East County proves attractive for living out of vehicles because it has pockets of open space that aren’t well-patrolled and public drinking is tolerated. Not surprisingly, individuals find it easier to live in campers in Lakeside or El Cajon than in a colder climate. They won’t go home until we enforce existing laws about trespassing and illegal camping. -- Debra Lynn, Lakeside


Great inconvenience if library is closed

Mayor Sam Abed thinks closing the East Valley branch library will cause a few inconveniences for Escondido’s citizens (“Council, public get look at proposed Escondido cuts,” SignOn San Diego, March 23). There are nine schools near the library. What is being proposed is not only inconvenient for some but irresponsible for all the children and elderly who use the library regularly. There must be a way for council members to balance the budget – perhaps paying a bit into their pensions? Giving up their cell phones? Giving up their gas allowance?

Step into the East Valley branch library and see smiles on the faces of children there who are finally understanding multiplication or the teen who uses the computers to apply for college scholarships or the toddler excited about hearing “The Cat in The Hat” during story time.
How is giving children a chance at a future inconvenient? -- Khristina Martin, Escondido


Flooding risk overlooked

In response to “Ballroom, skating rink among redevelopment proposals,” (Business, March 24): More than three years ago the city Planning Department and Redevelopment Agency established the Grantville Stakeholders Committee for the purpose of creating the land-use plan for the Grantville redevelopment project area. The GSC is stocked mostly with Grantville real estate developers, with just enough residents to make it seem legitimate.

During the course of the committee’s deliberations, one member, who is not a real estate developer, asked that the panel establish a subcommittee to study Grantville flooding. The response of the committee’s chair, who is a lobbyist for the Building Industry Association, was, “Flooding? What flooding?”
So how important is flooding at Alvarado Creek to the future of Grantville? Not much, according to the Grantville Stakeholders Committee. And it is certainly not the reason for establishing a 990-acre redevelopment project area. -- Brian T. Peterson, DVM; CEO, Grantville Action Group


Parking for disabled doesn’t mean free

I support J. Hostetler concerning handicap parking (Community Dialog letters, March 17). I am in favor of reserving space for disabled people. I am not in favor of free parking for the disabled.
I cannot understand why there is no charge for disabled spaces. Is it because being disabled equates to poverty? If there are valid reasons for this free parking, those reasons should be made clear to the public. -- Robert O’Donnell, South Bay


Raises spark outrage

It’s outrageous for Oceanside City Council members Jerry Kern and Gary Felien to support giving police management raises at this time (“Oceanside management police officers sign 2-year contract,” North Coast, March 24). This after they both promised pension reform. They lambasted Chuck Lowery for giving the same raises to the Fire Department last year. They just showed they don’t care about residents facing huge cuts to city services like the library, pools, parks, senior centers, recreation and at-risk youth programs. --
Mandy Barre, Oceanside


Tribe’s opposition to landfill questioned

Sheila Seagrave (Letters, March 19), writing in response to the Pala Band of Mission Indians and their opposition to the Gregory Canyon landfill, forgot to mention that the tribe is profiting from other uses considered undesirable by some neighbors.

It has the largest off-road facility in the county for motorcycle enthusiasts and makes thousands of dollars from a use that can’t be permitted in the county. A casino plus a rock quarry plus an off-road park equals sacred land? I don’t think so.

The voters spoke twice to approve landfill infrastructure needed in the North County. They need to be heard. -- Frank Ohrmund, Chula Vista


Priorities gone awry

At the top of the March 19 Local section of the U-T, we learned of the opening of a pedestrian bridge connecting the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park, just in time for the Padres’ Opening Day on April 5 (“A walk to the park: New bridge opens”). The cost: $26 million.

On Page B2, we are reminded that because of a $114 million deficit, the San Diego Unified School District has issued layoff warnings to 1,335 educators (“Seniority layoff rules could decimate schools”). On Page A14, we read again about the $500 million or more budget reduction for the University of California system (“UCSD alters rules for community college students”).

Who let this happen? When did our priorities go so awry? -- Virginia Redman, Encinitas


Zoo board needs diversity

That the Zoological Society of San Diego’s board of trustees has never had an African-American or Latino member is absolutely indefensible (“For zoo trustees, it’s a labor of love,” Local, March 20). Because the article lacked a comment from the board about its lack of diversity, members’ plan to address it or even whether they deem diversity important, one is left to conclude that it is entirely possible that the board will never have an African-American or Latino member. -- Michel Anderson, Mission Valley

Friday, February 25, 2011

Talking trash


North County seemingly has everything going for it, from microclimates to a variety of ways to enjoy its quality of life. What it doesn’t have is a place to dispose of its own trash. North County trash is trucked just about everywhere – to Orange and Ventura counties, Arizona and Otay Mesa in South County.

A mere two decades and $50 million or more in costs later, that is getting close to changing.
A hearing at the Fallbrook Library on Wednesday night put the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill back in the news. The county Department of Environmental Health heard public input on its plans to issue yet again a solid waste permit.
If you have a good memory, you may recall that planning for this landfill began around 1990 and that voters overwhelmingly approved it twice, in 1994 and 2004.

The landfill site is high above the San Luis Rey Riverand state Route 76, three miles east of Interstate 15.
Environmentalists argue that toxins from the landfill could seep into the ground and ultimately the river. They do not mention the extensive runoff collection and subdrain systems that are planned, or that the landfill will be covered by 12 layers of soil, gravel, woven geotextile, geomembrane and geosynthetic clay. Nor do they mention the lowered costs of disposing of trash, an estimated $50 million in fees to the county, or 1,300 acres of perpetual open space that eventually will result.

The Fallbrook hearing presented yet another opportunity for a Potemkin village front of opposition, this time with a National City environmental organization busing people to Fallbrook. It escapes us, however, how shipping millions of tons of trash long distances benefits North County residents who ultimately pay the cost. Or how South County benefits from trucks on its highways to fill its precious landfill space with North County trash.

“They’re after us again,” said Nancy Chase, spokeswoman for Gregory Canyon Ltd., “because we’re on the one-yard line.”

The landfill is getting closer, although there is no guarantee it will score this year. The project is within 60 days of acquiring a permit from the Air Pollution Control District. A Regional Water Quality Control District permit could come as soon as April. By September, the Army Corps of Engineers could be in position to grant yet another contested permit.
The voters have spoken twice. The regulatory processes have been engaged for 20 years. The courts have been called upon to rule at almost every step of the way. At some point, the greater good must prevail. The facts cannot be ignored: North County must have a place to bury its trash. And North County does not have one.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gregory Canyon Update - Solid Waste Facility Permit

The County of San Diego Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) is providing you notice that:

On February 1, 2011 the LEA determined that the Solid Waste Facility Permit application package for the proposed Gregory Canyon Landfill, previously accepted as incomplete, is complete and correct.
The update on the web page (listed below) is located at the bottom of the paragraph that discusses permit related actions.

For more information on the update please visit
If you have questions in regards to this notice please contact the LEA at 858-694-2888 or by e-mail at DEH Comments