Council: WWTP, Crown, San Carlos recycling center visit bring comment

September 26, 2012
Santa Paula City Council

Urging the City Council to rethink a property sale in the light of new information on its intended use, a council subcommittee’s visit to a Northern California recycling center, and the future of mass transit in the Santa Clara River Valley brought remarks at the September 17 meeting.

During public comment, Martin Hernandez, a candidate for the council, urged that the proposed sale of the city’s former wastewater treatment plant to Crown Disposal be examined closely.

The Santa Paula Times recently published an article noting the council had approved opening negotiations for the property, an approximately 10-acre parcel on Corporation Road. Crown, which purchased the city’s solid refuse enterprise more than a year ago, has offered more than $2 million for the property. 

When the council approved negotiations at the September 4 meeting the only thing on the table publicly was the first phase of Crown’s plans, a storage and maintenance yard. But a detailed report presented by Crown a week earlier to the Planning Commission noted the facility would also potentially become the site of bio-digester and trash transfer station operations. 

During the September 4 meeting, several citizens including Hernandez urged the council to closely examine the sale, although they were unaware at that point of the future plans for the property.

At the September 17 meeting during public comment Hernandez told the council that although he has been “very pleased” with Crown’s services as well as their proving to be “good community partners,” he now has even more concerns about the potential property sale. “I ask for our reconsideration” of the potential sale, he noted. 

“I was very interested to learn that a bio-digester and transfer station is planned,” which, Hernandez noted, “spoke to me to as a long term” revenue stream to the city. The council should instead consider leasing the property to Crown; Hernandez said although the site might require minimal cleanup - the use with the bio-digester would remain essentially the same - his research showed that no governing agencies are “trying to force this.”

Aside from the potential monetary benefits to the city, Hernandez said a bio-digester “can create odors in the community,” which the city would have more control over if they retained property ownership. Hernandez said bio-digesters are environmentally friendly and can be sources of power creation, another source of income, and he urged the council to consider “not be a landlord,” but rather a partner in any future Crown enterprise.

During communications Councilman Rick Cook addressed a trip he and Councilman Jim Tovias took to a facility in San Carlos, South Bay Recycling, a trash transfer and recycling center operated by Crown. A Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) of a dozen member public agencies - including 11 cities - owns South Bay Recycling, which does not operate a bio-digester. 

“The facility is unbelievable, very large” and enclosed, holding many employees. Cook added he was “very impressed; I talked to the head of JPA” and was told there have been no complaints about the facility.

“No odors?” asked Mayor Bob Gonzales. Cook said he was told the only time there is odor is around Christmas when trees are ground for recycling.

“When we first drove up,” said Councilman Jim Tovias, “I thought we were approaching an office building,” and there was no odor. The facility serves 93,000 regional customers and “they turn that refuse around every 24 hours... when you stood outside you couldn’t tell” what kind of operation was inside.

In addition, Tovias said the center offers educational tours - including for children - centered on recycling. “What struck me as being impressive was the workforce,” many who Tovias said are “transitioning back into society” after being incarcerated, an arrangement that provides their paychecks through a county program.

“You went there as a result of an ad hoc committee we formed on the council, correct?” said Gonzales. 

Another subject for discussion came from Councilman Ralph Fernandez, who said the Ventura County Transportation Commission is still wrestling with “how transportation will happen in the valley.... We have to look at that and work with Fillmore and the county and see how we provide transportation,” now that a new operator is handling the Freeway Flyer in the wake of the bankruptcy of the former supplying bus company.

Although there is an East County effort to fold all services under Gold Coast, Fernandez said there is a concern with service as well as cost. “We maintain that same position in the Santa Clara River Valley,” as does the West County. “We have to look at how that would effect Dial-A-Ride and local service in the city.”

Fernandez said transportation change is “a major issue coming up” that will probably include community input. Santa Paula’s Dial-A-Ride, which provides in-city service, is operated separately by Fillmore Area Transit.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.