October 31, 2004
Let's talk trash. Each year North County has about a million tons of it, all of which must be trucked to distant landfills. For several years now, those tons have gone to East County, South County, Orange County, Ventura County – anywhere but North County. Yet the newest rumor raised in support of Proposition B, the ballot measure to stop a North County landfill already under way, is that it would accept trash from Los Angeles.
That sort of hypocrisy belongs out on the curb, awaiting the sanitation engineer.
Bag that rumor, too, for it's hype. The odds that Los Angeles trash will wind up in the Gregory Canyon landfill are about nil, for the same reason North County needs this landfill: The farther trash is trucked, the more costly disposal gets, not to mention the heavier freeway truck traffic and other environmental impacts.
This rumor is only the latest of the hyped criticisms bruited by opponents of the Gregory Canyon landfill, who are also the proponents of Proposition B to sack it. They have claimed as well that the landfill will contaminate drinking water, despoil tribal lands and natural habitat, overburden local roadways. Geologists refute the former. The casino of the Pala Band of Mission Indians refutes the latter.
The landfill owners' pledges of funding to widen the roadways and of dedicating more than 75 percent of the acreage to habitat preservation refute the latter. Arguing all this has made Proposition B the county's most expensive ballot measure ever. At last report, the Pala Band has poured about $2.5 million into it; the landfill owners, $1.8 million. As long as the lever on the tribe's 2,000 slots get pulled, it will make big bucks. And fill big Dumpsters. If the landfill proceeds, its owners will make money too, perhaps enough to recoup the $20 million they've put into it over 15 years of meeting ever stricter requirements to get it built.
That there's money to be made in trash seems to gall some landfill opponents. But the county lost boodles trying to handle trash itself, meaning county residents lost money. Another private landfill increases competition here, helping to keep costs down. Hence, the earlier passage by 68 percent of a proposition approving the Gregory Canyon landfill for trash disposal "in an environmentally sound and economically competitive manner."
If passed, Proposition B would reverse not only that previous vote but the progress made in fulfilling it. The result: a return to square one, with more years of fighting to site and build a landfill, more years of noisy opposition in North County NIMBYists, and who knows but more outcry from neighbors near and far at North County's sending its trash into their back yards.
North County generates trash. North County should handle that trash responsibly. Voting not to repeal a wise vote 10 years ago will accomplish that. Vote No on Proposition B.