Palo Alto fails to find compromise in compost debate
Although I have moved to Capitola, I am still vitally interested in Palo Alto where I was quite active for more than 40 years, especially participating in the four projects described below where we reached a compromise. A key ingredient for putting together the groups was to get people with ALL points of view to sit down together with a willingness to reach a compromise.
Palo Alto Climate Protection Plan: 2008 approximately. About 25 people representing the City, Chamber, environmental organizations and interested citizens. Final facilitation by Steve Bishop, IDEO.
Reusable bag ordinance: Approximately 2008 or 2009, It took six months. Phil Bobel ably facilitated a group that had reps from Walgreens, Safeway, California Restaurant Association, Chamber of Commerce, City of Palo Alto, American Chemical Council and interested citizens. An outstanding example here is that Walgreens said that there was not room to have paper bags at its pharmacy checkout counters. They now have paper bags at Walgreens Pharmacy!!!
Green gigabytes of gratitude for great groups with glorious gab!!!
It has taken 5 years of “Palo Alto Process” to get to this muddled outcome. adidas football boots Staff recommended a “solution” that will not be implemented until 2022 and even more outrageously does not offer a local composting answer. This IS the Palo Alto Process and is the result of poor leadership that is not able to effectively manage controversy but instead kicks the can.
How are we as a society to deal with the complexity of solving global warming if an enlighted city like ours can’t move forward with this project that has such clear green benefits? Disheartening and embarrassing.
This article is frustratingly misleading. The Measure E proposal overwhelmingly passed by Palo Alto voters provides 10 acres of the landfill for development of a replacement for the ancient solid waste incinerators which spew 2300 metric tons of GHG into the air every year. That means that in since 2011 Palo Alto has added 6900 metric tons to the atmosphere and you can do the math the longer we delay, the more we add. Larry Klein is right this is URGENT.
And the people who voted for Measure E wanted to keep green waste composting in Palo Alto. Since the closure of the landfill, Palo Alto has added substantial amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere by trucking our garbage, re adidas football boots cycling and green waste to Sunnyvale, San Jose and Hollister. Yard waste alone accounts for 7 round trips per week that goes to Hollister. That is not what we wanted. We have to stop this. Putting a green waste composing operation in place quickly on the 3.8 flat acres of Measure E site is a great solution.
I do not understand why the only people in Palo Alto that are deemed “conservationists” are the ones who are doing everything possible, including filing a frivolous lawsuit, to delay the incinerator replacement process, and to try to keep any of the Measure E site from being used, even it if compromised the project. The rest of us who are seriously concerned about consequences of CO2 emissions, including global warming, climate change, sea level rise, and the acidification of the the oceans with its ensuing consequences, are also environmentalists. We are looking forward to the world we are creating for our children and grandchildren and we do NOT like what we see. It’s no longer enough to just create parks. As a 21st Century Environmentalist, I cannot condone Palo Alto even considering using carbon based fuel to ship our waste sewage sludge, food waste or yard waste anywhere, when the technology is available to manage it ourselves.
In the process of researching Palo Alto options, our hardworking City Staff found technologies that would replace the incinerators with units that would anaerobically digest the dewatered sewage sludge, would utilize methane captured from the dump for power, and would incorporated food waste into the process and also produce useable power. It also has a green waste composting component. Check it out: Web Link. Washington DC is in the process of building a large installation. The technology is modular, can be sized to fit a city’s need, and there are units adidas football boots in place and under construction in the UK and Europe. This is the process that Harvest and We Generation is proposing, and it is available right now. It includes a dewatering unit that could be put in place quickly, allowing the incinerators to be decommissioned expeditio adidas football boots usly.
Go to Web Link and plot sea level rise of 1 meter. The only part of the Baylands that will not be under water is the landfill, and possibly part of the WTP. If this does not seriously concern you, it should. I cannot begin to imagine the costs of building levees to protect the WTP and the parts of Palo Alto that will be under water. If we do not do as much as we all can to reduce GHG emissions we are passing that along to our children and grandchildren. I somehow do not think they will thank us. We also do not have to wait until sea level rises to that level to feel the effects. It has risen enough that we are at risk from El Nino flooding now.
It’s time to stop dragging this process out.
So Emily Renzel and her people and Peter Drekmeier and his people meet with city staff in good faith and work out a compromise that meets our city’s objective needs, like our city council says it likes things to happen. Then at the last possible minute city staff alters the “compromise” behind closed doors to favor one side’s ideology, carefully avoiding informing the other side until the fait is accompli.
That is flatly dishonest. I can think of other characterizations, but the Weekly would rightfully censor them.
OK city council. Now you see why it is so difficult to involve citizens in city process. Their hard work and time investment can be arbitrarily trashed in an instant.
“The Measure E proposal overwhelmingly passed by Palo Alto voters provides 10 acres of the landfill for development of a replacement for the ancient solid waste incinerators which spew 2300 metric tons of GHG into the air every year.”
Even if that were correct, the joke’s on you.
First, this apparent sabotage of the process delays the replacement of the ancient incinerator, which was part of the package that the council was supposed to review but now won’t until much later. That needlessly added months to the incinerator’s operation.
Second, voters voted to put a “garbage to energy” thingy on those 10 acres that would be totally out of sight under a “grassy roof” while delivering magic energy to an adoring citizenry. That was the promise, but they will get no such thing. Peter D. Co. want only to compost leaves and twigs and grass clippings on that land, like Palo Alto did before. Those decaying organics will release many tons of the GHGs CO2 and CH4 into our atmosphere every year, but will generate not one whit of energy.
The Measure E supporters have been had.
At your February 10 Meeting, this local entrepreneur made recommendations regarding the onsite organics conversion. BIOGAS Equity 2 RFP submission was in line what had been presented to Phil Bobel in May of 2012. Biogas2’s submission was rejected because two files were submitted three days past the deadline and as a technology Agent lacked some of the financial backing sought.
Biogas2 recommends to place two UDR AD digesters on the vacant 1/2 acre and keep the food scraps separate from the sewer sludge and take advantage of the gained organic fertilizer that has a value of at four times that of electric energy. The sewer sludge was partially dewatered and separately digested and its fertilizer value is minimal. Biogas from both systems are combined with the landfill gas and converted with CHPs generators to destroy the methane. Biogas2 teamed up with DPR Construction and priced the entire system at $10M with construction time of 18 month after permits.
Your Staff’s new proposal is too conservative, extremely expensive ($10M for dewatering alone) and not in the best interest of Palo Alto residence. The objective should be to process waste near where it is generated and minimize trucking for obvious reasons.
Synagro uses decanter centrifuges for sewer sludge dewatering and pelletize the dried biosolids at SMUD. Ading food waste to the mix caused proplems last year. LA started a two year test to add a small amount of food scraps.
Mixing large amounts of food scraps with sewer sludge to gain more electric power is not economical because of fertilizer value loss