A plan to comply with a government mandate to divert organic waste from landfills – at an estimated annual cost of $ 450 million – was reluctantly approved by Tehachapi City Council on September 20.
After a presentation by Assistant to the City Manager Corey Costelloe, the council voted 3-2 to approve the city’s SB 1383 implementation plan. Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Davies and Councilor Susan Wiggins voted no.
Mayor Phil Smith and Councilors Christina Scrivner and Joan Pogon-Cord voted to approve the plan, but none appeared satisfied. Smith asked how much of an increase residents might have to pay (still unknown), and Scrivner urged city officials to continue their efforts to work with state officials.
“Please keep trying to find reasonable solutions,” she said.
City Manager Greg Garrett said the bill is another example of a government mandate that is difficult for small cities. “One size doesn’t fit all,” he told the council. “Rest assured that we will continue the fight.”
Previously, the city of CalRecycle had posted a comment expressing concerns about the cost increase for residents of compulsory organic recycling, Costelloe said. Although the city’s contribution didn’t directly impact organic compliance regulations, he said the state agency said it helped lay the groundwork for delayed enforcement of those regulations.
The problem that Senate Bill 1383 wanted to address when it passed in 2016 is to reduce the impact of short-term climate pollutants that create methane and affect climate change by diverting organic material – including garden waste and food waste – from landfills and waste electricity said Costelloe.
The law goes into effect January 1, 2022, but the city has developed a plan to achieve full compliance by July 1, 2023. Until then, a third garbage can must be picked up once a week.
The state even states the size of the container and what needs to be printed on it, he said.
The city is working with Waste Management, its solid waste and recycling franchise service provider, to be prepared, he said.
Other requirements include an edible food rescue program to promote and billing for food and convenience food donations by grocery stores and restaurants to nonprofit and community organizations and, ultimately, monitoring, enforcement and public relations related to all elements of SB 1383.
Commercial organic waste and self-hauled green waste from the city are already being transported to the Mt. Vernon Composting Facility in Bakersfield for composting; At some point the city will have to take back the material in the form of finished compost or mulch.
Sludge from the city’s sewage treatment plant is also treated by a composting company and reused for soil management and erosion control projects, Costelloe said. Some additional work will be required in order for the city to meet all procurement requirements under state law.
At its meeting on September 7th, the council approved the first reading of ordinances on signage, additional residential units (also known as “granny apartments”) and a zone change to enable a new AT&T cellular tower.
Development Services Director Jay Schlosser gave brief presentations on all three.
An ordinance amending the city’s zoning law to regulate signs is intended to ensure the city complies with the 2015 US Supreme Court opinion that regulating signs based on content is unconstitutional, he said.
Passing an ordinance amending various sections of the city’s zoning law to regulate ADUs and junior ADUs is required in order for the city to comply with state law that exempts units – whether additions to existing homes or detached, separate small apartments – from the California Environmental Quality Act and other requirements. According to the law, the city has little discretion when approving the units, said Schlosser.
Approving an AT&T cell phone boom on the Tehachapi Unified School District property (near the high school) requires the adoption of an ordinance that changes the zoning of the country.
All three second readings were approved 5-0 by the Council with no public comment or discussion, which led to the adoption of the regulations.
As part of the consent agenda and without discussion, an amendment was also approved that would allow builder K Hovnanian to proceed with a plan to build homes on 55 lots in Alta Estates without connecting the remaining lots in the subdivision and building public improvements .
Alta Estates is a 384-lot subdivision west of Curry Street between Pinon Street and Highline Road. It was designed in five phases, but construction stopped during the 2007-08 economic crash. Eventually the apartments were completed in the first three phases, but 122 lots in phases four and five remain empty.
In a report to the city council, Schlosser said that the city code usually mandates that public improvements related to a tract phase be fully bonded and built before individual homes can be built and sold.
“Given the size of Phase 4 (or Phase 5), this requirement is effectively intolerable in our current housing market,” wrote Schlosser.
He recommended that the city allow a sub-phase to develop, and the council agreed to allow KHov to commit and build for the public improvements required to clear the first 55 lots of phase 4.
The council action was to approve a draft contract for future signing by the mayor after the builder completed the property purchase and deposited bonds on the 55 properties. He said this is expected in about 60 days.
The Tehachapi Planning Commission approved designs for the houses planned by KHov at its September 13 meeting.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: [email protected]