Interesting solid waste proposals merit the public’s attention

15 Feb

When I was home schooling my kids I met Barbara Kopicki of Chico State Associated Students Recycling Program. She and her co-worker Deanna invited us to observe the daily routine. 

Deanna had a “trike” that had been specially built to haul a trailer loaded with Rubbermaid garbage totes around to the various food services at  the college, collecting “clean” food waste – meaning, no meat, no cigarettes, garbage, gum, etc. This she took to a facility at University Farms where they were experimenting with commercial composting. Her dream was to service restaurants. 

I had a 6 year old and a two year old. The 6 year old was full of energy, this was a good bout for him.  The two year old could walk quite well but not very far or fast, so I had to tote him a lot. We had to trot along after Deanna to follow her on her rounds, she explained right from the start that we had to keep up.  We went with her to the various campus eateries, even the cooking school, where the students had racks of freaking pies standing around. No, we were not offered a single bite, talk about good sports.

We finally got back to the office, where Barbara showed the kids her Rubbermaid keeper full of worms, where she threw her lunch scraps every day. 

I don’t know if my kids were interested in recycling, but they really liked Barbara and Deanna. I know Barbara went back to Southern California to start her own family. I don’t know what became of Deanna, but I’m sure she’s somewhere, making things happen.   Seeds they planted here are just popping up.

Tomorrow, Chico City Council will talk about permitting a food composting operation out at the rendering plant south of town on Hwy 99. 

I’ve always worried the rendering plant would come under fire as development moved that way. People are so stupid – they cut off their nose to spite their face just about every day. Like Mark Stemen and his little group who want to get rid of the scrap yard (also on Tuesday’s agenda). Let me ask you this, Officer Stemen, of the Chico Sustainability Task Force, where would you take a crapped out washing machine? 

I know – you’d watch happily with one arm over a crutch because you’re so fat your knee is toast, while a young person who gets paid maybe $15/hour loads it onto a truck and takes it away, having dropped off your new machine. You have no idea – because people like Stemen can’t see past the end of their own nose – that it goes right to the scrap yard. 

No, don’t tell me you sold/gave away that stinking thing? You expect somebody to wash their clothes in your accumulated filth? Get out!  

That’s right, that’s what the scrap yard is for, to properly dispose of stuff people have used beyond it’s usefullness. Some people don’t see any connect between their actions and said consequences, and that would be Mark Stemen.

I imagine Stemen would march on the rendering plant, but it’s too far to drive his enormous gas-guzzling van, and he has other pots to stick his fingers in closer to home. And besides, the rendering plant has come up with a plan of their own – take advantage of a law passed in 2014 that requires commercial food businesses to separate out  their food compost and dispose of it somewhere besides the dump. 

We drive by the rendering plant on trips, right there across from Cycleland Speedway, another landmark placed on the development railroad tracks.  I’ve always expected development to be bad for the rendering plant, ever since I read about a plant in Sacramento that was being sued by a huge developer who wanted to place new subdivisions within a couple of miles. There ought to be some protection for long time businesses like the rendering plant, as well as the scrap yard. What the hell has the city of Chico been thinking, allowing residential development to move into industrial areas, even placing new housing right next door to the fairgrounds and the race track?  What kind of planning is that? 

It’s called a “nudge,” and these public entities do it all the time. They don’t care about individual businesses or even families. My own property is penciled in for 22 houses (!). Former city planning commissioner Kirk Monfort once said from the dais that property owners like us would die someday and our kids would not be able to afford to keep our property, so the city would be able to develop it with high density housing. They’ve permitted high density housing in our low-density neighborhood, moving it in slowly but surely, hoping people like us would just sell. Many of my neighbors have. That’s what you call “nudging.” 

I’m sure the rendering plant is aware of the practice of “nudging,” and bravo for them, there’s their plan – change with the times. Go for it, North State Rendering. 

Meanwhile, there’s a battle going on in Glenn County over a recyling/garbage sorting facility proposed by a woman who owns a piece of property east of Ham City. She has gone through the approval process in Glenn County, but neighbors are protesting, saying she’s too close to Stony Creek. When she approached the city of Chico looking for customers, she was got the back of Mayor Sorensen’s hand, the excuse being, our dump needs the trash. 

Didn’t you just hear me telling you, the dump is closing their septage ponds because they say the dump is full and  they need to make more room for trash? 

Folks in Glenn County are really mad about this new dump –

 For several years now, it’s been discussed in the media – the Glenn County dump is full to capacity and slated to close. But, it sounds as though this operation would be located right on Stony Creek in an old gravel mine, that’s a red light.  What will they do?

 I wonder if the Glenn County supervisors could have done more to get the public involved in this discussion before it got so drastic. I know the city of Chico and the County of Butte are also having a lot of behind-closed-door discussions that should be had before the public. Tomorrow night we have the chance to hear more about this proposal, as well as plans to rezone the scrap yard.




6 Responses to “Interesting solid waste proposals merit the public’s attention”

  1. James February 15, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    I noticed a couple of comments re: “scrap yard”. Perhaps you could be more specific as to the location of said “scrap yard”.

    • Juanita Sumner February 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

      There on 20th Street, across from Sierra Nevada brewery. You’ll find a report attached to the council agenda with more details. I’m not sure I understand the implications of what they’re doing, but it sounds like they’ve heard some of the neighbor’s complaints.

      • James February 15, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

        There have been 2 staff cancer deaths at Chapman School in the last 10 years (esophogeal, lymphoma ), and my oncologist gives me a year…tops with multiple myeloma. Not to mention the 4 non fatal so far… cases of breast cancer, 2 thyroid, and 1 medullary blastoma (child). I know CSM’s bay area lawyer says there is no contamination, but there are credible reports to the contrary if you want to read the CNR, I do and now tend to believe them. Certainly having members of the city council on their team has not hurt them.
        But maybe a change in locations would not be such a bad idea.

      • Juanita Sumner February 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

        Thanks for the conversation on this issue.

        I agree with you that the scrap yard will eventually have to be moved to a larger location away from residential and public areas. I think they have probably already overgrown that site. But I think the city and county need to do more to help them out financially, since they perform a needed service.

  2. Rob February 16, 2016 at 7:29 am #

    Juanita, why would you single out Chico Scrap Metal – there are other contaminated sites in that neighborhood. The old Victor site is right down the street, has never been mitigated. Louisiana Pacific was a Super Fund site until they scraped all the contaminated dirt into a mound and “capped” it with asphalt.

    That whole part of town should be “mitigated” – remember the Junky George car lot that sat in that area for years? Old junked cars sitting on the ground. Also, there are “toxic plumes” all along Park Ave from several old drying cleaning establishments. When I lived on 20th Street during my college days in the late 80’s, early 90’s, we got a notice from the city that we shouldn’t even shower in our tap water, that it had been found to contain some kind of noxious chemical. The city is now on the hook to clean all those wells, but they are pretty hush-hush about their progress.

    I think it’s unfair to single out one business that has not been proven to be doing anything illegal. And you’re right – they perform a valuable service. Drive up along a mountain road sometime, see what they do with “crapped out” washing machines up there.

    • Juanita Sumner February 16, 2016 at 7:32 am #

      I agree, I’m conflicted on this. I’m frustrated that poor planning has led to such a situation. There needs to be a bigger, more rational conversation about what we do with our waste. No more finger pointing.

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