On Monday evening May 9th, the Simi Valley City Council approved to accept a MOU (Memorandum of Understand) where the City of Simi Valley will support the expansion plans of the Simi Valley Landfill and in return, Waste Management (the operator of the Simi Valley Landfill) will offset negative impacts to Simi Valley with money and other activities that have been reported to total near 90 million dollars over 52 years.
I want to make clear in this article that I am not against the expansion plans of the Simi Valley Landfill nor am I unhappy with Waste Management. I do not see Waste Management as bad guys. I wrote about the Simi Valley landfill expansion on this blog back in September 2009. If you read the comments below the Simi Valley Landfill Expansion article you can see my position on the Simi Valley Landfill which remains the same today with only one addition.
First and foremost we all need to recognize that Waste Management owns the property and is in the landfill business. Waste Management makes a living processing waste. Waste Management has done a very good job with the Simi Valley Landfill. It is only natural that they would seek expansion and increase their daily intake. As I mentioned in the comments on my September 2009 article, I was clear that the City of Simi Valley had a prime opportunity to restrict the expansion of the landfill years ago.
My main objection to the expansion of the landfill is not related to the operator or how it functions currently. That objection is, with the expansion comes an increase intake in garbage coming from Los Angeles County. This was something I did not fully understand until 10 months ago and was not aware of when I wrote the September 2009 article. But didn’t I say that I was not opposed to the expansion? Certainly. I am opposed to the intake of garbage from Los Angeles County.
Consider, as Ventura County residents, we need to be very concerned with any expansion approved by the County Board of Supervisors that includes the handling of garbage from Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County has planned for over 20 years that as they reached their capacity for handling their own landfill waste, eventually they would have to put the waste on trains and ship it to landfills in other counties. Ironically Los Angeles County is almost double in size by square miles to Ventura County. Their landfills are closing, residents have been successful in keeping Los Angeles County landfills from expanding or opening in new locations and as I understand Los Angeles County landfill operations do not accept garbage from outside Los Angeles County.
Why our Ventura County Supervisors believe we should take on Los Angeles County garbage has been a question that remains unanswered. We know as Ventura County residents that our two landfills have limited space available. I am not aware of Ventura County having any contingency plans for dealing with our landfill waste, once our two landfills reach maximum capacity. If the two landfills located in Ventura County are our only resource for landfill waste, then I ask why squander those resources by filling them up with Los Angeles County garbage.
The Los Angeles County waste by rail program will ship Los Angeles County rubbish to Imperial County and possibly Riverside County. Los Angeles has decided that the neighboring counties around them should be the recipients of all their garbage. Simi Valley becomes a very cost effective and close offset facility for Los Angeles County’s landfill problems.
Again, none of this is the fault of Waste Management as I see it; this is a Ventura County and City of Simi Valley policy decision. Our City Council last year and years before dropped the ball (with the exception of Councilwoman Williamson) on bringing this discussion to the people. Opportunities to develop the land around the Landfill years ago were squandered by previous councils and Mayors. In the last election we were able to bring two new voices to our city council, we still have three members on our city council that have been in place for more than 12 years each. Next Monday night at the May 16th city council meeting we get to deal with a city sewer system that needs a cash infusion as poor planning on the part of city staff and our elected officials did not budget for replacements and upgrades over the years. The staff is trying to pass an increase sewer fees to help generate the funds for needed repair. Do we need to keep repeating ourselves on every issue in this city whether it be the Sewers or the Landfill?
These issues need open transparent discussion. We need city leaders who are willing to start that discussion with people outside their political donor list. When we have open transparent discussion, we will not be doing things at the last minute. If this city is to grow and prosper the old attitude of or our elected officials acting like the parent will need to change and have our leaders become trusted partners with the citizens of Simi Valley.