Need to Know

How San Jose is Affected by the Milpitas Garbage War

A bidding war between garbage companies will determine where the waste from Milpitas, Calif., ends up.

The town voted to dispose of the city's trash at Waste Management's Guadalupe Recycling and Disposal Facility in San Jose. But now Republic Services of Santa Clara County has gathered enough valid petition signatures to qualify a ballot measure asking Milpitas residents to rescind the city council's decision.

This is all playing out against the backdrop of ongoing issues with the Newby Island Landfill.

Milpitas, Calif., hired a law firm back in February 2015 to potentially sue the operator of the site.  A few days later, Republic Services of Santa Clara County formed the South Bay Odor Coalition to diminish the impacts to surrounding cities.

At the same time, the San Jose Planning Commission continued to delay its decisionregarding the proposed expansion. Milpitas, in March of last year, filed an appeal over the expansion plans and in April declared the landfill a public nuisance. (It was later denied.)

In May, another delay came until a study of the landfills odors could be completed.

Lastly, in December, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Peter Kirwan on Dec. 11 tentatively approved a settlement in a class action suit involving the landfill.

The San Jose Mercury News has two stories about the latest developments.

According to one piece:

At its June 7 meeting, the Milpitas council is scheduled to either put Republic's petition on the November ballot or rescind its earlier vote to dispose of the city's trash at Waste Management's Guadalupe Recycling and Disposal Facility in San Jose.

That vote triggered an outcry among San Jose residents, particularly those in Almaden Valley who don't want garbage trucks rumbling through their neighborhoods and fear they'll be subjected to the waste's odors on breezy days.

With Republic's 30-year waste collection and disposal contracts set to expire in September 2017, Milpitas decided to separate garbage collection and garbage disposal services to obtain more competitive bids for future service. The city and Republic have had an ongoing, contentious relationship in part over perceived odors emanating from the company's Newby Island Landfill.

Read that story here.

Another piece analyzes how the best chances for the residents of Almaden Valley to stop waste from coming through their neighborhood may lie with that vote.

In the second piece:

Neighbors worry that the estimated 22 to 37 truckloads of Milpitas trash that would be delivered each weekday will worsen traffic congestion, create odors and lower property values.

Many residents have disputed recent statements by Waste Management that there have not been any odors detected at the landfill in 2½ years by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. A public records request by this newspaper revealed that 71 odor complaints were logged since early April of this year, several weeks after Milpitas voted to send its garbage to San Jose. The district has not confirmed the validity of any of those complaints.

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the city take action against Milpitas and Waste Management, but city planning director Harry Freitas said there isn't much the city can do.

Read that story here.

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