Palo Alto Undedication of Byxbee Park Acreage for Composting Facility, Measure E (November 2011)

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A Palo Alto Undedication of Byxbee Park Acreage for Composting Facility, Measure E ballot question was on the November 8, 2011 ballot for voters in the City of Palo Alto in Santa Clara County, where it was approved.[1]

Measure E's approval means that 10 acres of Byxbee Park will be undedicated for the purpose of potentially building a composting facility. Byxbee Park is in the Palo Alto Baylands.

Article VIII of the Palo Alto City Charter limits the use of dedicated parkland property owned by the city to park, playground, recreation or conservation purposes. Dedicated parkland can't be used for non-park purposes unless a majority of the city's voters vote to un-dedicate the land in question.

Byxbee Park, which covers 126 acres, used to be a municipal landfill.

Election results

Measure E
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 9,946 64.62%
No5,44535.38%
Election results are from the Santa Clara County elections office.

Supporters

Supporters included former Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier and Walt Hays.[2]

Supporters said that due to the fact that Palo Alto's landfill is closed, if Measure E is not approved, the city will have to pay to truck its organic waste (primarily consisting of yard trimmings and food scraps) to Gilroy.

They said that setting aside the Byxbee acreage next to the wastewater treatment plan will allow the city to deal with its own organic waste in an "an anaerobic digestion facility that uses microorganisms inside closed containers to break down organic waste into biogas and compost."[3]

Opposition

"No on E" website banner

Opponents

Opponents included former Palo Alto Councilwoman Emily Renzel and Shani Kleinhaus.[2]

The official ballot measure arguments against Measure E were signed by:

  • Sid Espinosa, Mayor, City of Palo Alto
  • Judith G. Kleinberg, Mayor, 2006
  • Gary Fazzino, Former Mayor
  • Greg Schmid, City Councilmember
  • Enid Pearson, Vice-Mayor 1975 and Chair, Save the Baylands Committee

Arguments against


Palo Alto Measure E Mini-Debate

In the official voter guide, Measure E opponents made these arguments:

  • "When the government looks to our parks for public works projects, and voters allow it, NO park would ever be safe from such land grabs. Once irreplaceable parkland is gone, it's gone forever."
  • "It costs too much. This industrial waste processing facility costs up to $169 million over 20 years, has NO profits, provides only 1% of city's power demand at a huge cost, forces public service cuts and raises refuse rates far into future, derails the city's future green processing of sewage sludge at its current facility."
  • To build the new facility, "Over 2 million cubic feet of old garbage would be dug up. This garbage would be spread on our remaining parkland. Excavated garbage would release tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."
  • "We already have a cost effective proven regional solution. Since 1992, over 80% of our refuse has been disposed of regionally. Less than 16% of our waste is expected to·be processed by this facility. Our own waste hauler is building a modern processing facility just 12 miles away. Why spend scarce public funds on a redundant facility here? Why sacrifice parkland and take huge financial risks when we are part of an affordable regional solution? 'Taking care of our waste locally' is impractical and unattainable."
  • There is "NO project or approved design, NO true cost estimate, NO real source of funding, NO comprehensive environmental review."
  • "This is a dangerous land grab precedent and it reneges on park commitments made to Palo Alto residents."

Opponents also said:

  • "It is outrageous and insulting to the public to undedicate a public park and replace it with an industrial complex that will be run by an outside contractor for private profit."[4]
  • "This project will cost $111 to $268 million over 20 years, according to the City’s recent study. Proponents claimed that it would generate millions in savings, but the city’s study shows the anaerobic digester (any of the 32 cases) will actually operate at a loss. Furthermore, the study did not include the promised green roof and mitigation of impacts to Byxbee Park. Those will cost millions more. All of this will be paid for by raising our garbage rates far into the future."[4]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure E: Shall ten acres of existing parkland in Byxbee Park be undedicated for the exclusive purpose of building a processing facility for yard trimmings, food waste and other organic material?[5]

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References


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