Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

June 20, 2006 > NO CONFIDENCE!


by Steve Warga

By unanimous vote (4-0) on June 15, Alameda County supervisors placed a solid barrier in the road to the proposed compost facility in the Sunol Valley. How solid remains to be seen as this pet project of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) appears to have more lives than a wily old alley cat. So far, Project Manager Brian Mathews has pushed the Sunol project past all manner of contrary facts and informed opinions. With the active assistance of Karen Smith, ACWMA staff has defied public authorities and agencies that have indicated the Sunol location is wrong; their data and assumptions are wrong; their Environmental Impact Report is wrong; thus, they are wrong. Still, none of this has deterred Mathews and Smith.

Well, Supervisor Scott Haggerty whose district includes the dump site and sits on the ACWMA board decided it was time to take a stand. After conferring with county planning staff, Haggerty prepared a resolution expressing no confidence in the proposed site. With this vote in hand, Mathews and Smith now know that they will not secure a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the supervisors, a permit they must have to open the Sunol dump. And they know this well in advance of their application for a CUP. The looming question is whether or not ACWMA will finally stop directing large amounts of time, energy and money into the Sunol location.

The heart of Haggerty's motion lies in the question of conformity with county land use requirements. In compliance with Measure D as amended in 2000, the proposed site off Andrade Road is classified as "Water Management" land. While there are many approved uses for land so-designated, a compost facility, let alone a massive compost facility, is not an approved use. Even so, Mathews and company have ignored this legality from Day One, nearly three years ago. Why? To date, no knows the answer. As Haggerty noted in his discussion, the ACWMA staff might well keep this project alive for years if they're not clearly directed otherwise.

It remains to be seen, however, what sort of response will come from the ACWMA oversight board, which holds ultimate authority over the staff. As TCV previously reported, this board is in a stalemate after last month's contentious meeting in San Leandro. With a total of 21 votes at stake, one side or another must secure a two-thirds majority for or against the Sunol location.

The stalemate may be resolved at the next ACWMA board meeting scheduled for June 28. How will the board respond to the Haggerty resolution? Stay tuned to upcoming issues of TCV. We'll report on the June 28 meeting as part of a more in-depth look into the entire compost facility story.

ACWMA board meeting
June 28, 5 p.m.
777 Davis St., Suite 100
San Leandro
(510) 614-1699

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