Proponents of Measure E carefully ignore facts and reality and appeal to emotions and fond wishes.The truth is that no facility capable of dry anaerobic digestion of biosolids, food scraps and yard trimmings has been built or operated anywhere.
The cost of attempting to verify that such a facility is possible is tens of millions of dollars. That is not factored into the costs. Instead it is assumed that such a facility is practical.
Of course, since no such facility exists any estimates for building one are pure fantasy. The low range of 20 year costs are given as $60 to $96 million assuming that 15% of the cost will be met by grants. The high range is $202 to $294 million. Land value and rent are assumed to be zero. In fact the land is worth at least $20 million, and normal rent now paid to the City is over $900,000/year.
If land value and rent are included the added cost would be $38 million, so the true minimum cost of this facility would be $96 to $134 million, and the high range would be $240 to $332 million. If no rent is charged it will be the only garbage facility in Palo Alto that is not paying into the General Fund for land rentals, and reduces general fund income by the amount of rent forgone.
Since dry anaerobic digestion of biosolids, food scraps and yard trimmings never has been built or operated a pilot plant must be built and tested first. Cost of this plant is never stated but it will be significant. The lower cost estimates for dry anaerobic digestion of biosolids, food scraps and yard trimmings are unrealistic and incomplete.
The system that has been demonstrated effective is dry anaerobic digestion of food scraps and yard trimmings and wet dry anaerobic digestion of biosolids. Low range cost estimates for this approach range from $111 million to $169 million over 20 years including $900,000/year for land rent and $180 to $268 million in the high range.
The cheapest alternative is composting food scraps and yard trimmings in Gilroy and wet dry anaerobic digestion of biosolids at RWQCP which ranges from $77 million to $89 million including land rent in the low range and $112 to $134 million in the high range. This estimate includes up to $900,000/year for land rent that is paid to our general fund.
Supposedly undedicating parkland per Measure E is easy to reverse. Even if no facility is built there will be costs to the community. If conversion of the dump to parkland is delayed for 10 years construction costs are certain to be much higher, so delays will cost us significantly.
Spending excessively on waste processing can destroy a community’s finances. This month Harrisburg PA declared bankruptcy due to hundreds of millions spent on a waste facility that never operated as planned.
Measure E commits unknown but huge resources to unproven and potentially extremely expensive technology. We can’t afford to risk our financial future on fond hopes and grand dreams. Vote No on Measure E. Save our community and economy.