http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2011/10/07/developers-boost-funding-for-compost-campaign


Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 7, 2011

Developers boost funding for compost campaign

Supporters of building a waste-to-energy facility in Byxbee Park hold fundraising edge over opponents

by Gennady Sheyner

An infusion of cash from local developers has given proponents of a composting facility in the Baylands a fundraising edge in Palo Alto's battle over Measure E, campaign data show.

Meanwhile, finance reports also show that opponents of Measure D, which would repeal a binding-arbitration requirement for the city and its public-safety unions, have racked up $20,333 in debt while raising no funds as of the end of September.

The "Committee for Measure E," which supports undedicating a 10-acre parcel of Byxbee Park to enable a waste-to-energy facility to be built, raised $10,912 between July and late September and now has $18,773 in its campaign chest. Opponents of Measure E, known as the "Save the Baylands Committee," raised $5,675 during the same period and have $11,231 to date.

Each group relied on contributions from council members, business people and dozens of other residents who generally gave smaller amounts. But the pro-Measure E camp received a lift from the development community. Charles "Chop" Keenan, a prominent downtown developer, contributed $500 to the campaign, as did William Reller of the firm EWS Real Estate Investment. Developer Sam Webster gave $1,000 to the campaign.

The opposing camp, led by former Councilwoman Emily Renzel, received a $900 infusion from Dave Bubenik, the campaign's treasurer, but relied by and large on smaller contributions. Renzel contributed $400 to the effort, while most others gave between $100 and $200. The campaign also received a $250 contribution from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.

Both sides also relied on financial help from local commissioners and elected officials, both past and present. Supporters of Measure E include Councilman Larry Klein ($500) and Councilwoman Gail Price ($100), along with former council members Jack Morton ($50), John Barton ($50) and Ellen Fletcher ($30). School board member Dana Tom contributed $50 to the campaign, as did Utilities Advisory Commission member Jonathan Foster and Human Relations Commission member Claude Ezran.

Opponents of Measure E include Mayor Sid Espinosa, who gave $100 to the campaign, and former Mayors Lanie Wheeler ($100), Gary Fazzino ($100), Judy Kleinberg ($50) and Dena Mossar ($50). Former Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell also contributed $50.

Palo Alto's land-use watchdogs are also opposing the undedication of parkland. Bob Moss and Winter Dellenbach each contributed $50, while Mark Nadim gave $100. Planning and Transportation Commission Vice Chair Susan Fineberg also contributed $100 to the No on Measure E campaign.

While the battle over Measure E pits council members against one another, the battle lines look starkly different in the contest over Measure D, the city's effort to repeal binding arbitration from the City Charter.

In that race, a small group of council members is funding the bulk of the effort, with Councilman Greg Scharff's $5,000 contribution leading the way. The campaign, which reported $7,535 in contributions between July 1 and Sept. 25, also received $250 from Councilman Pat Burt, $150 from Councilman Greg Schmid and $100 from Councilwoman Karen Holman.

If voters pass Measure D, the city would no longer be required to send its disputes with public-safety unions to a panel of arbitrators. The city's firefighters union is vehemently opposing the measure, though the union's campaign, known as "Committee for a Fair Palo Alto No on Measure D," had no reported contributions as of the end of September.

The union did, however, rack up $20,333 in debt. The vast majority of that money was spent on a polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, finance records show.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by other people's money, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm

"opponents of Measure D...have racked up $20,333 in debt while raising no funds"
I see a pattern here.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2011 at 6:51 am

I agree. The opponents also lied about having Nancy Shephard's endorsement.


Posted by watchdog dad, a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

Looking at the combined campaign reports since January, you can find a lot more developer money in the Pro E treasury. Makes you wonder why THEY want to take park protections off of millions of dollars worth of Palo Alto Real Estate in our baylands.

Pro Measure E has received $9,000 of their $!8,733 from developers since January. $5000 from Jim Baer, $1500 from Bill Reller, $2000 from HO Holdings in Redwood City, $1000 from Sam Webster, and $500 from Chop Keenan. They also received $1000 from lawyer John McGaraghan. No expenditure has been shown for the lawn signs which surely must have been paid for before the Reporting cutoff date.


Posted by A. Cannara, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

The Internet has, unfortunately, provided as much if not more opportunity for misinformation dissemination as it does for fact.

There's nothing to be gained from Measure E by developers. If developers were to somehow get possession of these public lands and start digging foundations for structures, they'd be shut down faster than HP flips CEOs. It would be a Superfund site, because it's a very toxic dump. You don't build occupiable structures on dumps in my home state and we don't do it here either.

Whoever wrote this apparently misses the fact that there are indeed responsible people in all businesses who see Palo Alto advancing via E -- from one of only two Calif. cities still burning sewage sludge, wasting $ millions, generating emissions and dumping the ash on small Central Valley communities, to wisdom and stewardship of resources that our descendents may applaud rather than jeer.


Posted by An Engineer, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

" from one of only two Calif. cities still burning sewage sludge, wasting $ millions, generating emissions and dumping the ash on small Central Valley communities, to wisdom and stewardship of resources that our descendents may applaud rather than jeer."

Which descendants are you referring to? Surely not the ones in the Central Valley communities on which will be dumped the toxic, stinking anaerobic digester residue. You conveniently forget that sewage sludge is toxic whether it's burned (which the city will stop doing soon anyway) or fed to bacteria.

Sorry pal, but I fail to see the wisdom and stewardship of giving up our park for zero net benefit, while spending lots of money we don't have in the process.


Posted by No on E, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Measure E is a referendum on whether Palo Alto will build a wet Anarobic Digester in the Baylands next to the sewage treatment plant. However, the Yes on Measure E have very successfully managed to convinced the voters of Palo Alto that it is simply a request to un-dedicate 8 acres of Bixby Park.

Just wait 'till all those people who will vote in favor of Measure E have to pay for it's construction and use. Our Utility bills will go way up!! Vote "No" on Measure E, unless you want to pay for it.


Posted by Vote-NO-On-Measure-E, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

> Makes you wonder why THEY want to take park protections
> off of millions of dollars worth of Palo Alto Real Estate
> in our Baylands.

So .. who is "HO Holdings", and why do they want to be on the "trash the park" side of this debate?

> HO Holdings, Redwood City .. $500.

A little Googling gives us a pretty good idea:

--
Web Link

PALO ALTO – "The owner and developer of the aging Edgewood Shopping Center is in talks with its lender after a default notice was filed saying it owed $11 million."

"The Palo Alto plaza, built in the 1950s, has been the target of redevelopment plans in recent years that faced stiff opposition from nearby residents, and the most recent proposal has not brought any new
construction yet. Still, some Bay Area retail brokers said the developer would try to reach a deal with its bank."

"The default notice was filed March 14 in the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder's office against Ho Holdings No. 1 LLC. That company's listed manager is Bay Area developer Peter Pau, principal of San Mateo-based Sand Hill Property Co."
---

Well .. getting the Edgewood Plaza through the "Palo Alto Process" is worth a few dollars. And then there is matter of who might end up getting construction contracts from the money that might be spent building this clearly unneeded bit of misguided "environmentalism".

So, add well-known developer Peter Pan to the list of developers who are circling the tens of millions of tax-payer dollars that is going to be spent with virtually no oversight.

No reason to ask .. why do the coyotes tend to gravitate to the chicken coop?

Best to tell these big name developers: "No Thanks!"

And the best way to keep them out of the park is to:

Vote NO on Measure E.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Of course Measure E is only about undedicating parkland - not about committing to building anything on the property. EXCEPT one reads Peter Drekmeier's LTE on the Daily Post's opinion page of Sept. 28.

His last paragraph says, "Measure E is the NEXT STEP (my caps, not his) to keeping our waste processing local..." In other words the next push will be to build a processing plant on the now available space if the measure passes!! If that is not so, why bother to spend money to undedicate the land?

Who builds the plant? Developers. Who pays for any sort of a plant? We, the taxpayers.


Posted by registered user, Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Measure E does NOT dictate any project or technology.

Measure E ONLY sets aside 10 acres of the former dump for the exclusive purpose of converting our wastes into compost and/or energy. It is neither permitted nor possible to develop that land in any way other than for waste conversion.

You can read the language of the initiative for yourself at Web Link.

If Measure E does not pass, the cost to dispose of yard, food, and sewage digestate will be $3.5 million per year. That is directly from the city's feasibility study (reference: PDF @ Web Link, page 9 line items 138 and 139 which gives a combined cost of $1.1M for disposing of sewage digestate, and page 24, for the first year, Food Scraps Cost $1.6M and Yard Trimmings Cost $0.8M).

There is substantial benefit to the city and utility ratepayers in passing Measure E. Dry AD is one of the technologies which is possible for the site, but not the only option which could save Palo Alto millions of dollars.

While sewage could be Digested at the existing sewage treatment plant, that's all they could do there. With Measure E, the city would have space to receive restaurant food waste and feed it to the digesters. Food produces three times more energy than sewage, and combining the two can further increase energy production by 10 to 15%, and reduce the waste digestate by the same amount. It might be possible to dedicate a digester for food-only, but that is only possible if we have land to receive and prepare the food.

With Measure E, we would be able to compost our yard and residential food waste locally, providing a local drop off location for residents, avoiding 450,000 vehicle miles in waste hauling, and saving the city millions of dollars.

The fact that a few environmentally-minded developers have enough sense to support a cause which benefits the city as a whole is to their credit. The YES on E campaign is comprised of hundreds of volunteers, and enjoys the support of 6 times more members of the community. See the list and add your name at Web Link

Vote YES on E


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 5, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Once again we are back with the fuzzy math about Measure E. Why not wait, decide what kind of technology, if any, to use and then place 2 measures on the ballot--1 for undedicataion and if or technology. Why waste more than $300K on this election??
I understand that money is no object to the major backer of this folly (who BTW remains unexplainably silent on this forum with regard to this issue).
Another two reasons to vote no on Measure E is the support of Larry Klein and Jack Morton. Which raises another question, should council members be donating money to causes that they will have to eventually vote on? Of course conflicts of interest are never an issue with our council (remember the PACT scandal???)


Posted by Why developers support E, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

There are any number of reasons the developers and their supporters favor Measure E.
Two big ones:
-it sets a precedent for the city to sell off public lands. Of course they always say no this won't set a precedent, but of course it does. Ask George Bush, he sold off lots of public property for private development.

- developers are deeply indebted to Drekmeier for his pro-development votes on the city council. Often 5 to 4 votes.
He even voted for the 84 unit monstrosity at 195 Page Mill Road that this week, the "improved" version could not get even one vote.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I have to question the journalistic integrity of an article about Measure E that prominently features a "No on E" sign and slogan as part of the article. And just because some developers (along with many other Palo Alto citizens) care about sustainability and green energy and therefore support Measure E, what exactly is wrong with that? If you are implying a conflict of interest, where are the facts? Measure E would set aside a small part of the former dump so the City can further evaluate the viability of building fully-enclosed digesters to process our considerable amount of green waste, which now is being trucked to Gilroy. The City's recent study shows that this would (among other benefits) save ratepayers money as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which we all know are contributing to global climate change. If Measure E opponents truly want to "Save the Baylands," then they should welcome forward-looking solutions like this, or the baylands will be under water sooner than they think.


Posted by An Engineer, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

"I have to question the journalistic integrity of an article about Measure E that prominently features a "No on E" sign and slogan as part of the article."

You are much too paranoid. Right now I see an ad for the "21st Annual Jonathan J. King Memorial Lectureship" adjacent to the article.

" Measure E would set aside a small part of the former dump so the City can further evaluate the viability of building fully-enclosed digesters to process our considerable amount of green waste"

Why set aside land now so the city can spend more and more money on consultants? Where's the proposal? I hear lots of loosey-goosey pie in the sky buzzwords like "sustainability and green energy," but no provable facts.

I'm not voting to give up any land until these people do their homework and present a definite project will a firm price tag and a real, favorable environmental review.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Mr. Cedric de la Beaujardiere has let the cat out of the bag. "...sets aside 10 acres of the former dump for the exclusive purpose of converting our wastes into compost and/or energy."

So there will be a facility (the word "plant" is avoided - sounds too commercial I suppose) of some kind built on the site albeit for one purpose only? There are many high sounding statements made about how wonderful such a facility will be. But no hard numbers are given of cost to build, operational costs, or what happens if revenue does not cover expenses. As a taxpayer this makes me nervous.


Posted by Emily Renzel, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Pro Measure E folks are trying to have it both ways. For over a year now they have been touting energy savings, energy generation, a green roof, and other claims for a specific technology and barely mentioning that the undedication of the park. Now, with their case collapsing in the face of news that Dry Anaerobic Digestion has never been used for sewage sludge anywhere in the world, they are scramblng and saying "Oh this is just to hold a site." Well, Byxbee Park will be there in the future if and when the City needs it. To undedicate it now will make it vulnerable to all sorts of proposals of unknown costs and environmental impacts. Vote NO on E. It's expensive, risky, and misleading.


Posted by Diogenes, a resident of Addison School
on Oct 6, 2011 at 6:45 am

A large number of otherwise good and well meaning people have been gulled by the Yes on E leaders into thinking E is an environmental measure. It is not!!!

Does a true environmental measure gather nearly all of its petition signatures before the first results of the Feasibility Report are made public? Intentionally avoid compliance with CEQA? Seek most of its funding from well known developers? Use data which a fully cooperating Dept of Public Works/Consultant have produced to promote their cause, concealing the stark fact that the process they promote has never ever been used anywhere in the world? Ignore the fact that the State, not the City, owns the relevant 10 acres, and the City is in major default under its leases from the State? True environmentalist do not mislead the public and have secured their past successes by accurate facts, well reasoned analysis and logical proposals. E fails on every one of these points and has been so judged and opposed by the unanimous votes of the Boards of both Audubon and Committee for Green Foothills. E is NOT a good environmental measure. Do not be fooled.


Posted by Publius, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2011 at 9:28 am

Tokenism is defined as performing a small inconsequential act which makes the actor feel better but has no impact on the problem. Measure E is pure tokenism as far as meaningful environmental improvement on Global Warming/C2O emissions -- barely measurable reduction of Palo Alto's annual C2O) emissions (if it were rainfall it would be labelled "trace"). There have been two excellent articles in the NY Times within the past month warning of the great danger of the public thinking that these tiny tiny little steps provide any real help to the problem. It makes the actors feel good, but it does not help. The Feasibility Study establishes this beyond any doubt, yet Measure E supporters keep that it is meaningful. Significant legislation and scientific advances are needed, not tokenism.

All that is meaningful to E leaders is their ego. That happens when people start making a living and a career out of being an "environmentalist". Sort of like the worst "politicians". Not all; only the worst. Misleading claims, warped vision, unsavory tactics. No on E.


Posted by registered user, svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

Publius:
"All that is meaningful to E leaders is their ego. That happens when people start making a living and a career out of being an "environmentalist"."

How true. You hit the nail on the head with those comments. Very accurately describes the man behind this whole folly.

On another note, I received my ballot information booklet yesterday. I noticed that for both Measure D and E, the people that wrote the arguments felt the need to point out that some of them were former mayors in Palo Alto. Are the voters supposed to be impressed that some people once won a popularity contest and that this knowledge is supposed to somehow sway their vote???


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I wrote in another venue that Tom Jordan, Emily Renzel and Enid Pearson are right, the others, including people I quite often side with, agree with, help out on their other projects, or ask for guidance from, are wrong.
Web Link

What tipped the scales for me is how glossy their one-sheet is.
No on E. "E" for "Expensive".

Mark Weiss
Earthwise Productions
x-Bay Area Action, BAA Earth Day at Stanford


Posted by registered user, svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

"But too many other little projects and ideas got in the way and instead of surprising my friend Peter Drekmeier (our former mayor; my former Bay Area Action and Earth Day colleague), I offered it to him in passing. And he passed."

That would have involved work on his part!!!!


Posted by Tattler, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

First get the park land opened up and declared non-parkland. Then put in something that will bleed money so when it fails and closes up, the developers will be free to develop on what used to be Bixbee park.
Now you know their plans.


Posted by Tattler, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

...though the compost will benefit Palo Altans cannabis gardens.


Posted by Alex DiGiorgio, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm

If endorsements mean anything, 'YES on Measure E' means something.

In addition to the thousands of Palo Altans who acted to put Measure E on the ballot, the following organizations have endorsed the 'YES on E' Campaign:

• Santa Clara County Democratic Party
• Green Party of Santa Clara County
• Peninsula Democratic Coalition
• Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley
• Silicon Valley Action Network
• Acterra
• Clean Coalition
• American Muslim Voice Foundation
• Students for a Sustainable Stanford
• The Climate Foundation



You can't support sustainable development if you reflexively oppose 'development.'

Ironically, Measure E does not approve of any development; it makes 10 acres of the dump--those adjacent to the regional sewage treatment plant--available so our community can explore the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable options available.

Vote YES on E (you'll be in good compan-E)



Posted by It's a rotten idea, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 7, 2011 at 12:22 am

Alex,

Let me ask you the same question that's been posed before. Why do you need to undedicate parkland "so our community can explore the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option available" (your words)? Why not do the analysis first?

You've got the cart before the horse. What if the environmental review finds that there's no environmental benefit to building an anaerobic digester as compared to no project (regional solution)? What if the only technically feasible solution is so expensive that residents will not tolerate the rate increases?

Why not do the analysis first and then secure the land later?

Science and reality might not support a rotten idea!


Posted by registered user, Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2011 at 2:41 am

A vote of the people is required to make the land available.

Why now you ask? Measure E is going to a vote November 8 because 6,000 people agreed the idea has enough merit to place it before the voters.

By launching our petition drive when we did, we convinced the council that the voters would be best served by an informative study. That study (Web Link) of both economics and green house gas is detailed and thorough, so don't be mislead by grouchy naysayers saying we need more numbers.

While the entirely Dry AD option is projected to save the city over $18M over 20 years, it is not the only option enabled by Measure E. City Staff has said that if the voters approve the use of the land, they will study an additional option of using Wet AD on the sewage treatment plant site and using the site next to them to increase energy generation and compost the digestate.

The "No can do" folks didn't want a study, and now that it's out and supportive to Yes on E, the opponents try to confuse and scare the voters. But these naysayers are neither economically nor ecologically sound:

If Measure E fails, Palo Alto will be left with paying over $3M per year to dispose of sewage digestate, food scraps, and yard trimmings. Residents and their gardeners will lose their local compost drop off location and have to drive an additional 285,000 miles per year. 7-ton and 22-ton trucks will drive an additional 170,000 miles per year. The non-local solution emits about 2000 more tons of CO2 per year.

This is all straight from the study scenario which City Staff indicated is the most realistic (Web Link).

Vote Yes on E if you think saving money, making local compost, and increasing renewable energy are a good trade in for 8% of the former landfill. You'll still have 92% of the landfill available for Byxbee Park.


Posted by Diogenes, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

No on E. Note how the Yes people completely avoid my main point: All of the numbers they cite for their proposal -- al of them, every last one of them -- are based on a plan that has never been used anywhere in the world -- Nowhere. In the World. None. Nada. Dept of Public Works , which wants the ten acres to build its empire, has cooperated with the Yes People by including a Case Study --Case 1a -- that has never been used anywhere in the world (there may well be a good reason for that) and the Yes people are using Case 1a numbers in all of their materials. How can you make economic or environmental projections when there is no proven base to work from? It is impossible. That means Case 1a numbers are guesses and conjecture, trying to pass as an engineered study. All of you engineers out there. Would you put your name to such work? Would you invest one dollar or one minute of time pursuing it? Yes on E and Dept of Public Works and the Consultant are an insult to the intelligence of Palo Alto. The Yes endorsements come from uninformed friends of the Yes promoters. The Democratic Club!! Really!! There is a group that spent time studying this. American Muslim Voice Foundation!! There is another one. This is not Buddy Buddy time. This serious business involving a lot of money, and Good Science should prevail. I challenge the Yes People to name one place in the world that has used this process and back that up with some proof. They cannot, and that should tell you all you need to know. No on E.


Posted by James Robenolt, a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I'm wondering why 10 acres? Have there been any studies or explanation as to why 10 acres of existing parkland are needed to do this project? Why not 2 or 20 acres? There doesn't seem to be any documentation as to why 10 acres are needed. We already know the benefits of the park. We can't know all the damages that will result, not to mention the terrible precedent this will set for the future of other existing parkland.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm



The epidemic of liver cancer and hepatitis in Asia is a direct result of the use of human excrement as compost and fertilizer.

The increase in life expectancy in the West was a direct result of separating human excrement from human food and water supplies by plumbing.

That is the science and the evidence

--we should not risk our children s and our own lives to fads or fashion when it comes to their/our physical and mental health.