Wahl’s wrong on waste

The Chico City Council Solid Waste Committee’s recommendation for an ordinance requiring that material from demolished buildings be recycled makes good sense.

Last week the committee voted 2-1—Councilmembers Dan Nguyen-Tan and Scott Gruendl in favor, Larry Wahl against—to bring the issue before the full council.

A few weeks ago Mark Abouzeid, owner of Chico Volkswagen, demolished an 80-year-old structure on Main Street so he could expand his car sales lot. Abouzeid could have sent the used building material straight to the Neal Road Landfill. Fortunately, the company that took down the structure chose to recycle most of it.

There is no guarantee that the next time a building comes down under similar circumstances the material will not end up in the landfill. This is important for a number of reasons.

By state mandate (AB939, passed in 1988) the city must divert to recycling at least 50 percent of the community’s waste that otherwise would go into the landfill or else face as much as a $10,000-per-day fine. Right now the city is maintaining a 51 to 52 percent reduction rate.

Even so, the landfill is running out of space and will reach capacity in 15 to 20 years. Finding land for another landfill and purchasing it is a major and costly undertaking. While we understand Councilmember Wahl’s constant vigilance to keep government out of our private lives, voting against this ordinance makes no sense for the simple reason that local taxpayers will be asked to pay for a new landfill.