Burn-dump lessons

Sometimes good and sensible intentions have unpleasant results

It’s certainly unfortunate that members of the Chico City Council believed the city had no choice but to pay $9.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Yuba City developer Tom Fogarty, yet casting blame—as some have done—serves no purpose besides election-year posturing.

The effort to figure out what to do about the toxic soil resulting from the city’s old Humboldt Road Burn Dump was one of the most complex and divisive issues in recent city history. All sorts of forces were at work, including a large group of neighbors concerned about the site, a special committee set up to make recommendations, state regulatory agencies and property owners in the area, including Fogarty.

The charge that liberal members of the council came up with a new policy on the dump cleanup to satisfy campaign contributors is especially loathsome. The decision to have the city clean up its own land and ask private property owners to make the case why the city should clean up their land made sense at the time.

We don’t blame Fogarty for suing. He and his partners have been injured by the burn dump, too. And the legal process being what it is, the city was right to settle in a manner that avoids the risk of even larger costs.

We should all be glad that this reminder of our past negligence in handling waste hasn’t been more expensive than it has.