Solid Waste Disposal
Sonoma County Alliance White Paper on Solid Waste July 2014
After several years of study and cessation of landfilling operations, in October 2009 the County proposed selling its Central Landfill site and divesting itself of all solid waste assets and liabilities. This Divestiture project was terminated because it did not receive the required vote for Board approval following public objections over losing local control of the assets, losing local business opportunities, and lack of public input into the process.
Within the week, a diverse group of individuals, including SCA members, began meeting to discuss solutions for Solid Waste disposal in Sonoma County. This group, named the No Name Garbage Group, focused on bringing together decision-makers to maximize diversion, retain local control, and support business in Sonoma County. The group suggested creation of a City and County task force to bring decision-makers together.
In February 2010 the Sonoma County/City Solid Waste Advisory Group (SWAG) held its first meeting with elected officials from each of the jurisdictions. Through facilitated discussions they developed priorities and measurable objectives which included Waste Diversion of 80% by 2015 and 90% by 2020.
In November 2010 the SWAG formed a Research Committee with members representing government, regulatory interests, the environmental community and the business sector, also including SCA members. Their task was to develop a list of options that addressed the SWAG goals and objectives.
In May 2011 the SWAG received and accepted the final report from the Research Committee whose recommendations included development of a Mixed Waste Processing Facility. This conclusion was validated by an outside consultant.
Since then, the County has completed negotiations with Republic Services to develop a Master Operations Agreement for Central Landfill and with The Ratto Group to provide collection and transfer station operations. All of these steps move Sonoma County in the direction of achieving the SWAG’s goals and objectives.
Quite a bit of research, collaboration, and thought that has gone into this process and the SCA has been an important part of encouraging the Cities and Sonoma County to find a local and sustainable solution.
The County of Sonoma is requesting the Cities commit their garbage collection stream to Central Landfill which will ratify the Master Operations Agreement with Republic Services. In addition to the flow commitments, the County is also discussing long-term liability issues with the Cities. The legal nature of these negotiations require closed session discussion only. Once the parties have reached consensus, public hearings will be held at each of the Cities prior to signing on to the Master Operations Agreement.
Republic Services Master Operations Agreement is not effective until a majority of the solid waste stream is committed to Central Landfill. Despite this, they requested and received approval for a Materials Recovery Facility which is an essential step in reaching our diversion goals. Republic’s will convert an existing building on the Landfill site to be used to recover recyclable materials from the waste stream. The impacts of this facility conversion are minimal and the operation is consistent with the other uses on the site.
The Sonoma County Alliance supports the County of Sonoma and the Cities in entering into this Master Operations Agreement with Republic Services as well as conversion of an existing building into a Materials Recovery Facility at Central Landfill.
On July 29, 2014, the City of Santa Rosa approved a Settlement Agreement with the County of Sonoma, a Waste Delivery Agreement with Republic Services, and a Contingent Liability Fund Agreement. This approval makes it highly likely that the other Cities will follow suit and this issue will be settled to the benefit of the citizens of Sonoma County.