Now that the landfill is closed, opponents of Measure E advocate the "Export Option" for dealing with our waste. That would entail trucking all our yard and food waste, plus the leftovers from the sewage treatment plant, south to San Jose and Gilroy and paying tipping fees for companies there to process them-costing over 450,000 truck miles and upward of $2 million/year and emitting thousands of tons of greenhouse gases.
The purpose of Measure E is to explore the possibility of eliminating those costly exports and instead building a local anaerobic digestion facility to convert our wastes to valuable green energy and compost. There is no point in doing that without a suitable location, and the only possible one is on 10 out of 126 acres of the former dump next to the sewage treatment plant, which can be undedicated only by popular vote.
Opponents make extravagant claims that Measure E would be costly, risky, etc. However, the City Council wisely commissioned a feasibility study to deal with such claims, and under the most realistic assumptions in that study, local conversion would achieve significant benefits in reduced costs and emissions. Defeat of Measure E would destroy any chance of achieving those benefits. Its passage would also involve zero risk, because the measure does not commit the city to build anything and the council will not do so unless its benefits are proven out.
Vote yes on E.
Even more Measure E
I write to correct statements in Alex DiGiorgio's letter supporting Measure E (Sept. 9, 2011).
First, he states that "other Bay area communities have already demonstrated" the process. Not true. Those communities have used wet anaerobic digestion only and the process being pushed by Measure E proponents is a dry anaerobic digestion process. Completely different and a process never before used with sewage sludge anywhere in the world. The feasibility report warns that all data for the proponents' favorite project is therefore "unreliable." Public Works staff has told City Council that a pilot plant is needed to prove the process but Palo Alto is too small to pay for a pilot plant. For reasonable people that would seem to eliminate Measure E from further consideration.
Second, he states "revenues from the bioenergy facility could subsidize restorations to the rest of the park." Not true. The feasibility study does not show any profit from any of the cases studied. Even if there were a profit, this facility would operate as an enterprise fund, which under Palo Alto ordinances must operate at a break even level. Any operating excess goes back to the operation of the enterprise fund from which it came.
High Speed Rail was sold as a good general concept but its local application would be a disaster. Same with Measure E — good general concept but unproven, risky and being sold the same as HSR.
Mitchell Park problems
I was dismayed to read about the problems with the Mitchell Park Library project in last week's Palo Alto Weekly. However, I was even more troubled by the article's lack of coverage about the role of the government in this project. The government's role (Federal, state, and local) is to protect individual rights — not to spend taxpayer's money on projects that should be funded by private sources. It's time that Americans (and Palo Altans) begin to re-learn the history of the United States and the Founding Father's express interest in preventing the government from infringing upon individual rights. This protection includes not spending tax money on wasteful projects mis-managed by government employees.
Isn't it obvious from this experience that the government has no business spending our money on building projects? Not only do they accept a "lowball" offer by the contractor, they also approve an architectural plan that is faulty, and finally have the nerve to unanimously approve an additional $3.7 million in funding to cover their own mistakes.