After spiking earlier this year, odor complaints in the city of Milpitas, Calif., dropped to 93 in November. Only about one-third of those were directly attributed to garbage. Earlier this year, the city had received 500 complaints in a single month.
The city is in the midst of several issues in relation to solid waste collection. It’s considering a new contract—a decision that got put off until after last week’s election.
In addition, due to odor issues at the Newby Island Landfill, the city is contemplating where it should send its waste.
The town voted to dispose of the city's trash at Waste Management's Guadalupe Recycling and Disposal Facility in San Jose. But Republic Services of Santa Clara County gathered enough valid petition signatures to qualify a ballot measure asking Milpitas residents to rescind the city council's decision.
Milpitas hired a law firm back in February 2015 to potentially sue the operator of the Newby Island Landfil. 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 delayits decision regarding 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 settlement was finalized in June.
The San Jose Mercury News has more.
Mayor Jose Esteves asked for the monthly odor report — typically approved without discussion on the council’s consent calendar — to be pulled for discussion. Esteves asked Interim City Engineer Greg Chung to explain the most recent numbers.
Chung told the council that 93 odor complaints had been filed with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in October, with 34 identifying the source of the odor as garbage, five as sewage and 54 without an identifiable source. Chung explained that when the air quality district receives a call about an odor, it sends out an investigator who will attempt to trace the odor to its source. These kinds of investigations are termed verified odor complaints.
Chung said the verified number of odor reports, 19, were significantly less than the unverified ones. He added there was a drop in the number of reports which in April and May were in the 300s.
Moreover, Chung told the council that the reasons for the drop could be attributed to anything from varying weather patterns to different people reporting it. City Manager Tom Williams added that operational changes at the Newby Island Landfill, which is often cast by residents as the main source of the odor in Milpitas, could also be at play.