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

June 27, 2006 > Dead or alive?

Dead or alive?

by Steve Warga

On Wednesday, June 28, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) will convene its regular, monthly meeting in San Leandro. According to several board members interviewed by TCV, a resolution to kill the Sunol project will be introduced ... again. At last month's meeting, board member Jennifer Hosterman, Pleasanton's mayor, called for a vote on this very topic. Her motion failed, 11 to 9, but that was before the Alameda County Supervisors' "no confidence" resolution passed unanimously on June 15. That vote changed the landscape, politically speaking.

To this point, the avalanche of negative reviews from various boards and authorities has had no discernable effect on the plans of ACWMA Executive Director Karen Smith and Project Manager Brian Mathews. Why they've doggedly pursued this particular location remains a question unanswered. Looming large today, however, is the question of whether or not they'll accept the obvious now that the Supervisors have denied - in advance - a Conditional Use Permit for the Sunol location.

The facility cannot operate without the county permit. End of story, right? Well, not quite; at least, to Smith and Mathews. A review of next week's published agenda offers no real clue of their current intentions. The summary of agenda item 5 lists a "Report of Alameda County Board of Supervisors' non-binding Resolution." True, the Supervisors' resolution was non-binding, but it concluded that the Sunol site violated county land use regulations. Therefore, a compost facility would be illegal. Only a change of regulations would alter this conclusion and county Supervisors said that isn't going to happen.

Within minutes of the Supervisors' vote, Mathews was heard consoling a supporter with a reminder that the vote was advisory only. Furthermore, there are reports that the two lead staffers have been lobbying for the authority to continue toward a Final Environmental Impact Report.

As many have noted from both sides of the Sunol argument, composting makes sense. If Smith, Mathews, et al really believe in the compost mission, why continue pushing the Sunol location? Several board members have begun openly considering an alternative: multiple, local operations. Hosterman has already discussed the concept with the Pleasanton Garbage Service. She envisions "small, clean, environmentally sensitive" composting facilities easily accessible to local residents throughout the county.

Will the ACWMA board direct staff to consider this, or any other alternatives? Or will they "stalemate" again, as they did last month? Come to the meeting on the 28th to see what happens next.

Alameda County Waste Management Authority
3 p.m.
Wednesday, June 28
777 Davis Street, Suite 100
San Leandro
(510) 614-1699

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