Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 11, 2011

Voters say 'yes' to land for composting plant

Measure E passes, allowing parkland to be used for a waste-to-energy facility

by Gennady Sheyner and Sue Dremann

Palo Alto voters made a strong statement in favor of keeping composting local Tuesday night when they passed Measure E, allowing a section of the city's Baylands to potentially be used for a waste-to-energy operation.

In an election that pit two environmentalist coalitions against one another, the "sustainability" crowd scored a victory over park conservationists when 64 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of Measure E, which undedicates a 10-acre parcel of Byxbee Park to enable construction of an anaerobic-digestion facility.

Opponents of Measure E, a coalition led by former Councilmembers Emily Renzel and Enid Pearson, argued that the proposed plant does not belong in the Baylands.

The initiative was spearheaded by former Mayor Peter Drekmeier, zero-waste activist Walt Hays and a coalition of local environmentalists and does not settle the green-versus-green dispute, which is sure to continue for many months to come. It also doesn't authorize the new plant, whose financial viability remains debatable. What it does do is give the City Council a new option in the complicated and deeply passionate debate over the future of the city's waste operation.

"I think the voters want a facility that's cost effective and that improves the environment," Drekmeier said shortly after early results were posted, showing his side winning 64 to 36 percent.

The margin of victory held up, with 7,713 votes in favor and 4,267 against by evening's end. Elaine Larson with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters said that roughly 2,000 absentee and provisional ballots from Palo Alto remain to be counted, but that more than 90 percent of those would be counted before the three-day weekend. Bob Wenzlau, who pioneered the city's curbside-recycling program and who co-wrote the initiative, said he was heartened by the election result.

"The only question now is how to get this thing built and how to get the City Council around to the will of the voters," Wenzlau said.

City officials have been wrestling with the dilemma of what to do about the city's compost for more than two years and, Measure E's passage notwithstanding, remain far from a resolution. The debate was prompted by the July closure of the city's landfill at Byxbee Park the former site of the city's compost operation. The landfill's closure means the city has to ship its compost to Gilroy. While park preservationists see this as a viable regional solution to the city's waste problems, other environmentalists view it as a slap in the face for a city that champions "zero waste" and reduction of carbon emissions.

A new waste facility would convert local yard trimmings and food scraps into energy. The measure had received endorsements from a wide range of environmental groups, including Acterra and the Green Party of Santa Clara County.

Dozens of Measure E supporters gathered at the home of Michael Santullo to await election results and celebrate victory. Carolyn Curtis, a volunteer who led the petition drive to get Measure E on the ballot, said the early results confirmed what she's been hearing during the signature-gathering effort.

"People don't like the idea of shipping their waste and having someone else take care of it," Curtis said.

Sunny Dykwel, a Parks and Recreation commissioner, said the new plant, if built, would both help the environment and showcase Palo Alto's clean-tech leadership.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Dykwel said. "And this is just a half of 1 percent of the park."

Park conservationists were less sanguine about the measure's passage. Over the past year, they persistently argued that building a waste facility in the Baylands would betray a promise the city had made to its voters more than four decades ago to convert the acreage to parkland when the landfill closes. Several environmental groups, including the Committee for Green Foothills and the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, had also come out against Measure E.

"I think the proponents will be happy for a very short time and the opponents will be disappointed for a very short time," said Bob Power, executive director of the Audubon Society. "Very soon, the (city's) planning department will find itself involved in a project that is non-existent at a cost that is incomprehensible."

The fight between the two green camps is expected to continue for many months. Renzel said there are a "million steps we can do" in the fight to save the 10 acres of parkland. She said using the site would require the city to remove about 9 acres of garbage that was buried at the site.

"That would mean 3.5 million cubic feet of garbage would have to be moved into the existing 42 acres of the park," said Renzel, who joined opponents of Measure E at the home of Enid Pearson. "It's very complex. They will need to get state approval for doing the landfill."

"We haven't lost yet until the fat lady sings," Renzel said.

Staff writers Gennady Sheyner and Sue Dremann can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com and sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Ricardo zu Alberto-Toros, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm

"Until the Fat Lady" anything is offensive and disgusting. These people are insensitive to the fact that obesity is a medical condition. SHAME!


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

It is still Election Day and already the Measure E supporters are contradicting themselves once again on its meaning. It was only days ago that we were assured that this was only about keeping options open so that more studies can be done. Now Drekmeier et al are saying that the voters indicated that they wanted this facility built.

Since a major part of the animosity in the campaign was the expectation that the supporters would pull exactly this switch, I am surprised that the reporter didn't ask about it.


Posted by Bob Wenzlau, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:27 am

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

As a proponent of Measure E, I wanted to extend my appreciation to the all the voters for their support. We carried a complicated topic into a civic dialogue. We accomplished a welcome national statement for the role of local efforts to combat climate change, generate green energy and manage wastes responsibly.

There is a strong mandate from this election - Palo Alto expects local management of our community's organics at a site adjacent to the water pollution control plant.

Now our Council and city staff must apply the statement of this election to eliminate any ambiguity on use of the land for a local project for our organics. The previous Task Force's consideration of alternatives was hampered by constraints on the use of land at the landfill/dump for this organics management. Those constraints have been released, and a smart project can be assembled and evaluated. The direction is clear.

While the article indicates that the opposition will continue their tactics, the momentum is held by the proponents of Measure E. The opposition's concerns while vocal are now the minority. We honor the chance to bring to Palo Alto an amazing project that is fiscally sound and environmentally-plentiful.

Congratulations Palo Alto!


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 5:23 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

I'm very pleased with these results: By nearly 2 to 1, Palo Alto voters have clearly stated local compost and renewable energy and money savings are a good trade for less than 8% of future Byxbee Park.

I'm glad to see that Palo Alto voters weren't fooled by the opposition's campaign of misinformation, though I see that their dishonorable tactic continues unabated. See our rebuttal to their many misleading claims at www.PAGreenEnergy.org/rebuttal including where you can see an image of the site in the context of the landfill contours.

I have every confidence that Palo Alto will find significant economic and environmental savings by turning our wastes into local resources. Go Palo Alto!


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:36 am

It is very disheartening to read this from above "There is a strong mandate from this election - Palo Alto expects local management of our community's organics at a site adjacent to the water pollution control plant."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The ballot and the pro-E campaign simply said this was to allow further study - nothing more. Can any of the crowing proponents just admit that?

It is very disappointing to see such blatantly untrue statement from the E-leaders - it lends credence to the claim that they simply want to push their own agenda, not actually figure out the right thing to do.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:58 am

> Glad to see that the retirement community was included in
> this event- often the seniors are neglected and their input ignored.

Seniors are people who vote. Most of the decisions made in elections are made by seniors. That's a well-known fact, to most people anyway.

Seniors living in places like Channing House are given "kid glove"treatment by City Council Members, and City Staff. Oddly, however, the people living at Channing House, and most of the other senior housing facilities, don't pay property taxes, so they end up having a large impact on City government, without bearing any of the costs.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

> Now our Council and city staff must apply the statement
> of this election

And exactly what language was on the ballot? If they do any more, then they will have exceeded the authority of Measure E.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:22 am

"We accomplished a welcome national statement for the role of local efforts to combat climate change, generate green energy and manage wastes responsibly"

The pro-Measure "E" focus on a "national statement" says it all - they want a vanity project to brag about at the expense of raising the utility rates of all the Palo Alto customers.

This is a mini-High Speed Rail folly in the making - a project sold on the feel good "let deal with our waste locally", and what it well end up doing is costing the utility customers hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs for minimal benefit.


Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:29 am

Encouraging to see that the votors have more sense than the major portion of the Palo Alto "establishment" that mindlessly opposed this initiative.


Posted by Frankenstein compost, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

Welcome to Frankenstein compost made from your poop, Palo Altans. It will be used in fields and fodder fed to cattle, and ultimately will come back to your dinner plates. How nice ! (not).


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

I am moderating my first statement by proffering an olive branch.

Speaking for myself and the few others with whom this came up last night, we are ready to work with the park preservationists to find and support ways to identify and minimize or eliminate any impacts on the park arising from the city's municipal organics management activities.

The Request For Information (RFI) for the city's Feasibility Study already stipulated controls for noise and odor, and CEQA and EIRs for any project will also require impact mitigation. But greater improvements are likely to be found through creative cooperation than through combativeness.

For instance, in our early outreach, in one proposal for the site, we proposed a living green roof over the building (Web Link) which would have returned about 40% of the site to the park, and buffered noise and visibility. Project opponents claimed it would be too expensive, but green roofs exist over thousands of buildings, and any increase in price could be a small fraction (2% to 7%) of the total project capital and life-time operating cost (based on quickly researched $10-$40/sq.ft typical pricing, and assuming $100M 20-year project). That's just one example of a creative solution to minimize impacts and increase enjoyment of what can be an educational and inspiring demonstation of turning wastes into resources and living sustainably.

Let us now put our differences asside and work together for a win-win-win solution.


Posted by compost, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

You DON'T need to worry about COMPOST!! Good grief. Get a grip.


Posted by Compost2, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

Just to add to my comment, that I feel it is GOOD to have compost. Please keep a healthy environment, whatever ends up on the plan.


Posted by notdecidedyet, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

this was NOT a vote to approve a composting plant.
it WAS a vote to allocate 10 acres of land which COULD BE USED for such a facility IF IT IS SEPARATELY APPROVED.

I voted for E because I want more time and information to decide if a composting facility makes sense or not.

If I feel it does not, I will vote NO.

Likewise, if there is any attempt to allocate the land for anything ELSE, I will VEHEMENTLY OPPOSE IT.




Posted by Old Palo Altan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:58 am

I think the jury is still out on the economic feasibility of the proposed plant. If we get too far ahead of ourselves, we will end up buried in more than waste!


Posted by Not a vote for anearobic digestion, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I nervously voted to undedicate this parkland for EXCLUSIVE use as compost/waste treatment facility--and NO OTHER PURPOSE. My expectation is that it will be rededicated if it is not used for composting/waste treatment within the ten year period from the passage of the initiative.

I DID NOT vote for the specific technology. It is my expectation that staff and Council will rigorously investigate the feasibility of technology options. My vote should not be taken as support for specific technology.

My vote was an act of trust. Council and staff, now do your homework. I'll be watching.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

@notdecidedyet - unfortunately, while you are right that no details have been worked out, you and I don't get another vote. This was it - the decision has now been handed to the city council and they get to decide. Regardless of the financing amount and kind, impact on utility rates, technology, environmental impact, alternatives available - Palo Alto voters will not get another say. This is the shame about Measure E - we just voted for a pig in a poke, and the council now gets to decide.


Posted by Joel, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Joel is a registered user.

Congratulations to my friends who engineered the Yes on Measure E campaign. I was opposed to the Measure on the basis of not wanting continued eroding of the Bay lands by construction of buildings there.
I hope that as we move forward that we can keep an open mind to finding a more appropriate area for a composting facility. Possibly including neighboring communities to allay the significant cost that such a facility would engender. I look forward to the discussion of providing composting to nearby regional facilities.


Posted by next door neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I for one have been witness to the work of city staff, committees, commissioners, and council, working on multiple topics, and have found them to be intelligent, thoughtful, respectful, and responsible with the public's trust. While we don't always agree, I feel all are working towards a shared goal of Palo Alto's well being.

As I indicated in a posting in another thread, I have found Council to be very responsive to both public sentiment, and a difficult financial climate. I'll repeat it here for clarity, where "our" or "we" is local composting advocates, "your" is park preservationists:

1) Council was responsive to our pressure to study local composting options in forming a task force;

2) Council was responsive to your pressure to direct that task force consider parkland as a last resort;

3) Council was responsive to the airport's pressure to not use the airport land;

4) Council was responsive to our pressure to study the economic and GHG impacts of the Task Force's recommendation of Dry AD, so that the voters could be better informed come November 8;

5) Council was responsive to your pressure to ammend the study to include Wet AD for sewage at the sewage plant as an option;

6) Council was responsive to your pressure and economic concerns in denying a mere $18,000 that would have enabled the staff to answer further questions and clarifications on the feasibility study.

Along every step of the way, Council has been responsive to both the community, as well as economic and environmental needs of the city, so there is neither evidence nor justification to assert that after last night's passage of Measure E to make 10 acres available for composting and renewable energy, Council will suddenly stop being responsive to community.


Posted by Skeptical, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

For those who voted for the measure in good faith that feasible, proven technology will be there and the project will be built at or under budget -- good luck with that. Once the measure is voted in, it's too late. Everyone should have come up with more answers and alternatives BEFORE voting in the measure. What's wrong with several cities combining their efforts into one facility?

I haven't seen anything so far whether the people behind the measure will have any financial interests in the facility. I think that's a very good question and hope it was answered before election day -- maybe it was and I didn't see it.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Cannot believe that once again the voters have drank the kool aid served up to them. A few years back it was the HSR kool aid served up by kishimoto and klien. This year it was the kool aid served up by peter and his cronies. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The supporters of E still cannot get their stories straight about what this vote was all about. They were good at twisting numbers to show their case and presenting various factoids, which time will show are lies.
Well, hopefully this matter will be engulfed in the PA process for a few years. As for Cedric's olive branch--his post above clearly shows what that is all about,
Peter, Cedric, ALex, Brian and the rest of the gang should enjoy the victory now, because once the real costs of their folly become apparent to the public, it will not be pretty.


Posted by Frankenstein compost, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Yes we DO need to worry about the KIND of compost produced by the proposed plant. The process won't eliminate the chemicals and heavy metals coming from the sewage sludge (= your poop). Those elements will make their way back into the food chain. Note that organic farmers refused to use compost made with human waste. There is a reason for that. Even Kern county which gets this kind of compost from the Orange county plant is now rebelling against it.

This kind of compost is Frankenstein compost and won't be good to have in the food chain. Unfortunately that is what it is meant for.


Posted by alan kaiser, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm

be careful, 7700 people in a special election is not exactly a mandate!


Posted by Don't care to be the brunt of your invective, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Just goes to show that even in Palo Alto money can buy the election. Go, developers! Why not the airport site? Why not the golf course? It's not even clear that the City is even allowed to build anything more on this site, and already the green washers are saying it's a voter mandate. Thank you to the "not yet decideds" who expressed their interests in a reasoned approach. The railroading nature of the proponents of this measure, which have already cost the City of Palo Alto a big chunk of change just in holding this special election, is what concerns me... they are reinforcing the existing evidence that for them, this not about reasoned debate, analysis of facts, and compromise... it's about winning and building a factory to line some corporation's coffers.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

To the sponsors of Measure E:
Throughout the campaign, many people, including me, stated the concern that you would spin a YES vote precisely as you have in the statements above and you (the sponsors) repeatedly and consistently gave assurances that that would not be the case and that the vote was only about preserving options.
1. Can you explain why you should not be viewed as relentless liars?
2. With this history, can you explain why the public should believe anything you say going forward?

To the forum moderator: I know that you don't like accusations of lying, but I think that this is an exception because
1. there is such an extensive written record of this behavior, in this forum, in the Letters to the Editor, ...
2. this is not intended as a personal attack, but a question of how public debate can proceed when trust has been so egregiously violated.

Note: I am not a "parkland preservationist" but opposed E as bad environmental and public policy.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

As a Yes voter, I offered the support with the full expectation that the feasibility will be conducted in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Efforts should continue in finding alternative sites including cooperation with other cities or purchasing other land to replace the parkland. I share the sentiment previously voiced: "We will be watching."

The minute the site is no longer needed either through an alternative plan or a negative finding on the feasibility study, the Parkland designation must be restored, or it will become a historical fact that the proponents of Measure E conspired to intentionally deceive Palo Alto voters. I think we will look back and see that Measure E backers deserved our trust -- however, we will be watching.

Tim Gray


Posted by pox on both houses, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm

this issue was a waste of time and money; any way to compost that?

the 'pro' side is moving too fast. there is no proven method for reduction of the waste stream to compost; my understanding is that some 'good' people think PA should front the land and money to prove-out anaerobic decomposition, but I don't agree (and I'm a Life Member of the Sierra Club). let some State or Federal funding source front the money and prove it.

once a proven method is found, then maybe we can put a plant in PA. but, only if the economics makes sense. include a cost for CO2 emissions in the calculations, even. but right now, the 'return' on this project is far too small, to warrant the expense of the election, or to explain the terrible, terrible obfuscation of the issues by both sides.

in the meantime, I suspect STRONGLY that there is a developer in the wings who stands to profit handsomely from this project. I want the media to find out/unravel the chain of ownership/self-interest/possession attendant to this project. because it smells of cronyism and corruption.


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by next door neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Dear notdecidedyet, Not a vote for anearobic digestion, and Timothy Gray:

Sounds like you guys are having second thoughts.
Don't feel bad. It's obvious that a lot of otherwise intelligent neighbors of yours, drank from the same potion.

Editors: time to do some muckracking and expose the interests behind the E sham.


Posted by yep, it's now!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

"1. Can you explain why you should not be viewed as relentless liars?"

Doug, calling your opponents liars is not the way to win an argument.
In the end, 64% of Palo Altans wanted to use the old dump site for composting & clean energy. Since experience the loss of composting facility, this alone would have won it.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm


> "My vote was an act of trust."

After the HSR fiasco, with Kishimoto and Klein telling us all to vote yes, how can you possibly trust the city council? Time to bring back those old bumper stickers: Question Authority.

Svatoid is right. The Palo Alto Kool-Aid is potent, particularly when any of the magic words are served up along with it: Green, For the Children, Bicycles.

Amazing that no one asks where the money will come from.


Posted by Svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Another issue which seems to have been swept under the rug by the pro-E clique is the matter of ownership of the land. Questions have been raised that the state owns the land. Has the city looked into this? Had the pro-E clique addressed this matter? Have we wasted money on an election to undedicate land we do not control? Anyone know? Cedric? Peter? Alex? Anyone?


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

For the record, I have sought to answer people's questions, to address what I believe to be inaccurate statements, and generally to share what I have learned from my time on the Compost Task Force, from my examination of the City's Feasibility Study, and from related research.

After bullies essentially called such shared information "BS", I subsequently sought to preemptively identify my sources, down to the document links and spreadsheet cell references. While an online bully occasionally and unfortunately got my goat, I have done my utmost to remain respectful and patient. I have sought to be concise, though this complex topic requires more depth and less soundbites.

Also for the record, the portion of my post which was deleted was a statement requesting people to use real names, in the hopes that it would lead people to treat each other with more respect.

I will not request that this forum require this of people, because there are cases in which anonymity is valid, for instance there could be an article about a crime, and a victim of a similar crime may wish to share their views while protecting their identity.

In general my request is that people treat each other with more respect, though likely the usual suspects will take this opportunity to attack me on that request as well. oh well, I can do nothing but let them show their true colors to impartial observers.


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

As to the question of ownership of the land, this has been a case where the State Lands Commission and the City have agreed to disagree for decades, during which time the Commission permitted landfill, composting, and recycling operations on the land. The Commission has also adopted strong resolutions urging action to deal with climate change, which is one of the purposes of Measure E.


Posted by Svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Cedric continues to protest too much. He calls certain people that disagree with his position and are vocal about it "bullies". He also has a selective memory of what he said about posters that post anonymously. It was a bit more than a request for people to reveal their identities to the pro-E clique. Cedric wants everyone to treat one another with respect-all fine and well, but remember the kettle and pot analogy


Posted by Eco Guerrero, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Eso es, Cedric! You are much more classy and persuasive than Svatoid.

I wonder if Svatoid has ever blessed anyone with an insightful thought or constructive idea. Lo dudo.

The anti-E people appear to be terribly graceless in defeat, and in light of what the public has expressed.

Measure E was about options--and their is a mandate consistent with that purpose: explore those options and implement the most ecologically responsible and cost-effective one among them.

Viva Measure E! Viva el Palo Alto Green Energy & Compost Initiative! Y complementos al Palo Alto!


Posted by Eco Guerriero, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Ma Svatoid, chi sei? Per che sei cosi testardo? Non vedi cosa c'e qua? Questo si chiama 'progresso.' Questo si chiama democracia. Il publico ha detto quallo che vuolo: energia pulita, justicia ambientale, un' economia che non e una schiava alla benzina, neanche la terra delle altri.

Palo Alto, avete fatto bravo! Complementi! Auguri!

Adesso, possiamo fare un futuro meglio e piu sostenibile.

Forza il Palo Alto Green Energy & Compost Initiative! Avete fatto bravissimo!


Posted by Svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm

But eco guerrero, the pro-E people are pushing a specific technology, so how do you square that with your claims that it was a mandate to explore options. Anyway I say we should have had an election, in the future, worth two measures-one for the parkland and one for the technology. Some people did not feel that was an option. Given the fact that we may not own the land, this election may have just been an ego trip for certain people.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Ecoguerro: Is Italian a classier language than English or is there some other reason for your post?

I think Svatoid is definitely a class act. He/she speaks the language of pragmatism and is right on target.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The proposed composting facility will NOT be on the old dump. That has already been sculpted into the new Byxbee park addition, and the landscaping, walks, etc. are scheduled to start in January.
The proposed facility would be where the Recycling facility is now - and extending down towards Embarcadero Way in close line of sight from the high-rise Byxbee Park (named for the city employee who many years ago started to plan the Baylands and acquire the land).. Part of the newly sculpted high rise park will have to be removed and that now compacted garbage either trucked away at great expense OR spread over the Baylands itself. This compost-burning plant will not be out someplace where no one sees it. It will be RIGHT THERE at the foot of the park hill in full view, hearing, and maybe scent. Go take a look. It will be immediately next to the new addition to the park. Mountain View had vision and now has a gorgeous park - on what was the Mountain View dump/landfill. And then there is Palo Alto............


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Actually, Bob, the 10 acres is on the last part of the dump which just closed in July, behind where the recycling center is or was, and abutting the sewage treatment plant. You can see an image of the site in the context of the landfill contours towards the bottom of Web Link. And, FYI, the recycling center is also on the dump/Byxbee park, which is why we are losing our local recycling drop off with the closure of the dump and the transference of its land to Byxbee. It will take years before they are ready to open as parkland the last parts of the dump: they have to wait until the fill settles and what not. The section which they just opened recently had been closed for a long time, decades I think (1990?).


Posted by Oldbasse, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I think that Measure E was clearly and straight-forwardly formulated. Unfortunately, I am not surprised at the negative and manipulative reactions of opponents to that Measure; I also deplore the poor arguments and posturing of some E proponents.

Grow up, Palo Altans! Democracy is more than screaming and yelling and being one-sidedly opposioninist and petulant or mindlessly advocacy-oriented. A viable democracy depends on intelligent and knowledgeable citizens who advance reasonable solutions to community issues, advanced in a civil and courteous manner. Zealotry and bigotry need to be rejected.

In regard to the issues central to Measure E, the supporters prevailed. So be it! For defeated opponents, accept the election outcome and be welcome to advance more convincing arguments for your position(s) at the next opportunity.

Personally, I am pleased with the electorate's decision on Measure E, and I look forward to the next developments for public input in this matter.


Posted by Rajiv, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The voters have spoken. It would be useful for the ones who lost to respectfully allow the process to continue. There may be a compost facility or there may not be. Let's make the decision based on cost and feasibility, not about replaying Measure E.


Posted by Follow the Money, a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

This was in the newspaper a few days ago:

"The largest cash donations to "Yes on E" in the past month came from Palo Alto resident Carolyn Curtis at $1,500 and Palo Alto resident James Phillips at $500.

The largest non-monetary contribution came from the Santa Clara County Republican Party, which reported spending about $2,829 on a mailer to its members in support of Measure E."

You read that correctly: THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!!!
Better known for supporting policies that destroy, not protects, the environment.

And Carolyn's Curtis $1500. probably went to pay for that kid from Oakland hired as "campaign consultant".


Posted by So, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

"You read that correctly: THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!!!"

So?? Whats your point??


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Rajiv (and others): "The voters have spoken. It would be useful for the ones who lost to respectfully allow the process to continue. There may be a compost facility or there may not be. Let's make the decision based on cost and feasibility,..."

Although the "parkland preservationists" will almost certainly attempt to overturn the will of the voters at some point in the future, currently it is the _sponsors_ of Measure E who are attempting to do this by recasting the vote into something it very definitely wasn't (see my earlier comments).

Notice that the sponsors' statements (above) rule out consideration of what is currently identified as the best choice "based on cost and feasibility" -- regional facilities where efficiencies of scale more than offset transportation costs.

People who voted for "keeping options open" so that Palo Alto could have the best based on ... need to recognize that their agenda (and mine) conflicts with that of E's sponsors and they should be prepared for a long fight against E's sponsors to protect what they voted for.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

@Doug, amen to that. It continues to shock me how what folks like Walt Hays cast as simply a way to get an environmental impact study done so further assessments could be made can be re-cast as a "mandate" for anything. It is sad, in my opinion, to see people try to pull the wool over the voters eyes, in plain sight.

Pro-E folks, what do you say? How can this be a mandate, when it was simply a vote to "explore the alternatives"?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 5:51 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

A recent article in Engineering News Record stated that the average waste to energy plant was more polluting than an equivalent coal fired plant.


Posted by It's now!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm

And..."it costs more to generate electricity at a waste-to-energy plant than it does at a coal, nuclear, or hydropower plant".


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

The two previous comments are not germane to our situation. Why make these statements? The average waste-to-energy plant is an incinerator that uses old technology that produces air pollution. The technology that is anticipated for Palo Alto is anaerobic digestion. This is nothing like incineration, and does not generate anything like the air pollution generated at a coal-fired facility. Compared to our alternatives, it produces much less pollution.

And "It's now" says it costs more to generate electricity at a waste-to-energy" plant that any other type of electrical generation facility. But he neglects to mention that the generation of electricity is a accomplished by using a byproduct of the digestion (i.e., methane and other biogases). It is a method to make the process even more financially and environmentally friendly than it otherwise would be.


Posted by David Tam, a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Palo Alto voters' approval by almost 2-1 Tuesday night of Measure E, authorizing a study of an anaerobic digester to produce compost and energy on 10 acres of your former landfill, shows your city to be a beacon of enlightened material discard management -- "a city on a shoreline." The other Bay Area cities should give the highest priority to retaining close-in lands for developing adequate recycling and composting infrastructure when phasing out 15 operating landfills. Outside built-up areas, they should restore as much of the natural environment as is feasible at the sites of more than 100 closed landfills. I believe that a thorough and careful regional planning study would show that the acreage needed for regionally-sustainable composting will leave considerable surplus space for expansion of shoreline parks.

David Tam
PO Box 11406 c/o Night On Streets Catholic Worker
Berkeley CA 94712


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2011 at 6:14 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Realistically, the highest use of bayland would be to exhume and export all the buried garbage, returning the ground to its natural condition.


Posted by Stephen, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2011 at 11:53 am

To Mr. Wallis - I searched ENR and couldn't find the article you mentioned - I did find several describing various ventures with relatively large anerobic digestion systems for energy production. Can you please provide the details of the article (date, title etc.) ?


Posted by Poor Cedric, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Hope that poor Cedric has gotten past his online meltdown. He has let the victory go to his head. Now he can devote himself to worshipping at Peter's feet.


Posted by yes follow the money, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I agree with pox who said
>.. I suspect STRONGLY that there is a developer in the wings who stands to profit handsomely from this project. I want the media to find out/unravel the chain of ownership/self-interest/possession attendant to this project. because it smells of cronyism and corruption.<

We need a DETAILED list of donors and the amounts they gave over $50, not the vague paragraph in the Weekly. Include in-kind donations for example those of Jim Baer and his relatives.We need to see a FINAL list.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Stephen - I just read them, I don't catalog them.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields