PG&E to remove 70 trees along Comanche Creek; Neal Road dump expanding

8 May

Wednesday afternoon I attended the Local Government Committee meeting.  I’ve told you about the garbage franchise discussion, but there was a lot of interesting stuff at that meeting.

About the hottest topic around town right now is PG&E removing 70 trees from the area between Estes Road and the Midway, along Comanche Creek. I only know what I heard – Chico City Manager Mark Orme reported he’d just met with PG&E at the site when he arrived at Wednesday’s meeting. This will be interesting to watch – the same people that just sat there while PG&E jacked our rates to cover their pensions are going to war over the removal of trees. It’s amazing to me what it takes to get people off their dead asses.

That conversation I overheard because Orme felt it necessary to update the various members of council as they arrived for the meeting, including Mayor Mark Sorensen.

Once the meeting was up and running, minutes had been approved, and we heard reports on the garbage franchises from county and city staff, we got a report on a dump expansion. The county will expand the dump at Neal Road to include an “aerobic” composting set-up. They’re negotiating on the property right now, I have no idea how much they are going to spend on this. Paul Hahn was very enthusiastic about revamping and modernizing the dump to collect electricity from methane gas and other wonders, but it all depends on rate increases for customers, that’s the bottom line. And it will depend heavily on Chico – the county is lobbying Chico to force haulers to take Chico trash to Neal Road, this is a huge point. The dump can’t make it without Chico’s trash. According to Mark Orme, everything about the city trash deal is “still in negotiation.” He’s like a cat watching a gopher hole.

What this new expansion will mean, as far as I can tell, is we will be able to dump our food scraps in with our yard waste.  The state is pushing us always to reduce the amount  that  goes into the actual dump. Up until now, the haulers have asked us not to put food scraps in our yard waste bins, for good reason. Food scraps, especially if they include MEAT scraps, don’t compost the same as yard waste, they draw flies and rats and other pests, etc. It has to be sorted, by somebody. It stinks. So, we’ve been asked to put our plate scrapings in the trash, and it’s added to the mountain that was once a canyon. 

Now Mannel says, they will ask customers to put their food scraps in the yard waste bin, and hire people to sort it out by hand.  Mark Sorensen seemed to have a problem with this – he was hung up on the “manual” aspect of this job. See, Mark doesn’t get his hands dirty. He might talk alot about “farm boys,” but he’s never been one. When this topic of sorting out food waste came up at a morning meeting last year, he wouldn’t even discuss it. He said, “those aren’t the kind of jobs we want…” He wouldn’t even hear the woman who came forward with the proposal.

At a time like this, we’ve got Mark Sorensen picking and choosing what kind of jobs we want around here? 

When I asked Mannel about having customers sort their food scraps into an extra bin – alot of people, like me, compost their own food scraps anyway. He indicated this was not an option – he said, “People treat all cans as garbage cans.”  Meaning, the customer cannot be trusted to do the right thing? I couldn’t argue with him, I’m not privvy to what other people put in their cans. I had a conversation years ago with a woman who ran the campus food recycling program – she said she didn’t take table scraps because they included stuff like meat and cigarettes, and she felt uncomfortable asking minimum wage college kitchen staffers to pick through people’s leavings. Mannel has no problem with dump employees sorting through a mish-mash of yard waste and food scraps as it streams by on a conveyor belt. I’m sure they’d be equipped with safety gear. As a housewife it’s no biggee to me, it’s every day life. Sorensen seemed genuinely disgusted with the idea. I see it as “green jobs.” 

So, we’ll keep an eye on the dump, it should be interesting.

The next item of interest was the new Behavioral Health Center, I’ll  pick that up when I get a chance.




2 Responses to “PG&E to remove 70 trees along Comanche Creek; Neal Road dump expanding”

  1. Jim May 9, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    Ok, now I’m confused. So they don’t want food scraps in the compost because it will attract pests. However it’s just fine to have pests attracted to garbage? I guess I don’t get the difference. We should be composting everything that will compost. That includes food scraps, kitty litter, disposable diapers, even paper products. Over at the Sierra Nevada Brewery they have a giant compost machine. They put all the food waste from the restaurant including bones, paper towels, paper plates, even plastic cups in there.

    • Juanita Sumner May 9, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      The old policy will change – they said the new expansion would allow a site for “aerobic composting” – that sounds like what Grossman is doing over at the brewery.

      Wow, here’s the website for Hot Rot Composting, I believe this is the company that built Grossman’s composter.

      I’m guessing the county would need a lot bigger machine, or maybe a bunch of these machines lined up side by side.

      I don’t know why they would need manual sorting at the dump site, except for what Mannel indicated – people won’t sort at home, and there will be unacceptable stuff in the bins.

      I’m guessing this will cost a whopload of money, and most of the money at the dump is eaten by salaries/etc. They’re management top-heavy – there were two county employees at that meeting just to talk about it, that’s the problem.

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