The expansion will take Brentwood’s current 2.8-acre outdoor site north of the Sunset Sports Complex and south of the Brentwood Wastewater Treatment Plant and convert it to a 5.7-acre, partially enclosed site 1,000 feet north of the existing station. While I definitely want the Transfer Station away from our sports complex, the proposed plan causes me grave concerns.
I was the lone dissenting vote, as it passed 4 to 1, with only one singular Brentwood resident commenting on the project. The devil is in the details and there are a number of unanswered questions about the transfer station expansion that I believe need to be investigated before we sink $9.8 million into a garbage project we just don’t need. Here are some facts the Brentwood community should ponder:
The cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz are the only cities in California that currently own and operate their own transfer stations. The remaining cities contract out to privately owned transfer stations because it has proven more cost effective. (Cost-effective garbage operations translate to lower service rates to the citizens.) We already have a transfer station located nearby in East County in the industrial area of Pittsburg.
In 2004, the new transfer station was budgeted to cost $4.8 million. In 2005, the costs swelled another $3.2 million to $8 million. Now, in 2009, the anticipated cost has ballooned to $9.8 million. During the planning phase of this project, sufficient revenue to fund the expansion was not garnered, so the city increased its garbage rates. We are now operating under a rate study intended to fund the transfer station expansion; however, these rates are designed to support an $8 million facility, not a $9.8 million facility. It seems a rate increase will be in store for Brentwood residents for this project to go forward. I do not support building a new, huge facility on the backs of Brentwood’s residents.
Brentwood’s current transfer station facility, while less modern, is permitted to receive up to 400 tons per day of Brentwood’s solid waste. It is currently taking in 150 tons per day of our trash – 250 tons less than its current permit capacity. It is anticipated that Brentwood will grow only another 1 percent by the year 2013. Given this data, the city has a 250-ton-per-day capacity still remaining at our existing transfer station. Therefore, we have enough capacity to last decades, if not more, before needing an expanded facility. The proposed plan is to accept up to 1,000 pounds of trash each day! In order to reach this magnitude of trash, we would have to start accepting other cities’ trash!
I fear the proposed transfer station will make Brentwood the trash dump for all of far East County. If Brentwood follows a plan presented by its own consultant, the proposed facility would begin taking in and processing garbage from other neighboring cities. Given that the city is asking to increase its permit capacity for its transfer station from 400 tons per day to 1,000 tons per day, it seems to me the only way the city-owned transfer station could justify the $9.8 million expenditure is if it planned on revenue from other cities’ garbage. Thus, Brentwood would be the new dumping ground for Antioch and other East County cities.
In the details of the transfer station study and mitigated-negative declaration document, it modifies the city’s permit to allow 500 garbage trucks per day – that’s 1,000 garbage truck trips – through the heart of Brentwood to and from the newly approved transfer station site. That does not include the 53 large transfer trucks – that’s 106 truck trips – in and out of Brentwood. The document plainly states that the following highly-traveled Brentwood roads will be impacted: Sunset Road, Grant Road, Brentwood Boulevard, Lone Tree Way, Sycamore Avenue, Central Boulevard, Sellers Avenue and Elkins Way.
If all of the above issues are not cause enough to pause, at the council meeting on Feb. 24, when the garbage plan was approved, city staff could not tell us how much Brentwood ratepayers would be paying in increased rates for this new $9.8 million city-owned solid waste transfer station. Staff indicated that the cost was already absorbed into the rate survey conducted two years ago (when the transfer station project was budgeted to be $8 million dollars) and that the initial cost could be around $560 per Brentwood resident … but the actual cost for Brentwood residents has not been determined.
I urge Brentwood to remove the current transfer station from its position adjacent to our sports complex, halt plans for expanding the garbage transfer station and ask some serious questions: Does the expansion make good policy and financial sense? Should our ratepayers be expected to foot the bill? If so, how much will that be per resident? Do we need 1,000 tons of other cities’ garbage coming into Brentwood every day? Do we want all those garbage trucks driving through Brentwood streets each day? In an economic recession, does expending $9.8 million for a new transfer station make sense, especially with no apparent justification other than to make money off of neighboring cities’ garbage?
These are serious questions and they were not answered when the solid waste transfer plan was approved. It’s why I voted No.
I encourage and invite Brentwood residents to weigh in on this important issue by e-mailing city leaders at email@example.com or by calling 516-5400. I would also appreciate your input; please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Brandon Richey is a Brentwood City Council member and police sergeant with the Concord Police Department.