While spring cleaning gets more folks’ attention, my desk is in serious need of a summer clean-up as the last waves of heat punish us while waiting for fall to arrive. (Please!)

Since I only got the invite to blog today after this holiday weekend had started, I may ask more questions than get answered, but hopefully some city reps and others involved will send in some answers during the day. Hopefully, some folks will follow the links and get involved in the public process.

First up among the items competing on my desktop for attention and public comment are the mayor’s proposals to increase the city’s recycling rate, first for construction and demolition debris — the No. 1 largest category of recyclable materials still going into landfills, and second the proposal for the rest of us to increase recycling.

1. Construction and Demolition Debris recycling proposal

This is ITEM 1 on this Wednesday’s 2 p.m. Natural Resources and Culture Committee hearing.

The city presents the importance of this here (More than 400,000 tons of construction and demolition debris are still being buried at the Miramar Landfill each year).

Too bad the latest proposal (should be linked online at the NRC site sometime today) is difficult to understand and completely lacking an adequate fiscal analysis.

But what I’m most wondering at the moment is why the proposal to set a “Refuse Container Replacement Fee” on residents receiving city trash pick-up is buried in the Report entitled “Construction and Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance Implementation”? (By the way, the proposed fee if you need to replace a broken trash container or if you need any additional containers is being set at $61 + $25 if you want it delivered). For the first time, residents could purchase certified containers from sources other than the city, so the price could go down over time. But there is no discussion of what this new fee will be used for.

The way the report is written, it appears the mayor is proposing to use these new payments from residents to subsidize construction demolition debris diversion from developer construction projects. Say it ain’t so Jerry!

But if he’s going to propose a Refuse Container Fee on residents, then how about a Landfill Preservation Fee for developers? They are currently proposing a deposit system (with complicated exemptions) that looks to be an administrative nightmare for developers, haulers and the city.

How about something simpler? You ban recyclable construction and demolition debris from landfills in the city (both Miramar and Sycamore are in the city of San Diego). Recyclers can then serve that market for recycling the C&D materials. To help compensate for lost landfill fees, the landfill operators (city, allied) could set-up their own C&D recycling operations to capture what used to be paid for disposing it to go for recycling it. Sales of aggregates bring in income.

Can’t the city use the landfill’s enterprise funds to run this operation? It’s landfill expansion after all. Every ton recycled is a ton that remains to be used for items that really have no place else to go. Landfill Preservation Fees could make up any of the rest and put the price incentives where they belong — in favor of recycling. As it is, the mayor is proposing a system only an industry lobbyist can love: (low recycling requirements, reduced competition, complicated fees and reporting).

NOTE to Andrea Tevlin Independent Budget Analyst: Help! The city’s reports are not providing much background on their list of assumptions for their cost and “subsidy” estimates, nor are they explaining to the public and the Council the costs to the city when Miramar closes and how that relates to savings today. Recycling is good for the environment http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9249262, storing trash long term is very expensive, so why can’t we see a proposal that uses a fee system to level the playing field for recyclables vs trash?

2. Draft Recycling Proposal (for the rest of us)

Right-on. The Mayor is finally proposing to require recycling, sort of. The good news is that many big buildings will indeed have to set-up recycling programs. But As City Heights attorney John Stump testified at the recycling stakeholder’s meeting last week, “This is a great proposal – for 1985.”

With enough exemptions to drive a few thousand trash trucks through, even the city admits it’s only designed to catch the “low hanging fruit.” The city estimates that it would increase recycling by about 100,000 tons which is only about 2.5 percent to add to the city’s reported 52 percent recycling rate. Another problem though: when I asked the city what’s in the 52 percent, the answer was, well, it turns out there’s lots of fudge factors involved in how you measure a city’s recycling rate. More on that later.

Whatever the formula, the state is considering raising the bar to require a 75 percent recycling rate and Navy representatives testified that they are achieving this rate in San Diego today. My question is: what if the Council wants to set the recycling rate higher? Where’s the mayor’s plan to get above 60 percent? Shouldn’t the private sector meet the challenge of at least what the U.S. Navy is achieving? Wasn’t recycling required during World War II?

See the current proposal and send in your requests for changes at:

Also on my desk — see updates in later posts:

3. Friends of Rose Canyon vs. Regents Road bridge

The saga continues … is ITEM 334 on Tuesday’s Council docket illegal?

4. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is out for a massive expansion of Westfield’s University Towne Centre in the Golden Triangle (750,000 sq feet retail and 250 housing units) Sustainable Development?

So far, not so good …

5. Westfield: Take this tour!

And I need another 50 volunteers for the GreenBuilt Tour Sept 29/30

6. Precise Plan process for Fiesta Island (Mission Bay Park)

7. Fox Canyon Neighborhood Park and Wightman Street

Why can’t we get two parks?

— CAROLYN CHASE

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