One of the unfortunate facts about politicians is the way they count on the electorate to cast their votes based on mythology over facts. And there’s no better way to mythologize an important issue than to publish an ad with a dramatic headline. A politician counts on the headline weighing more on voters than the content itself. Take Bob Huber’s ad on the landfill expansion, complete with “trash can” bullet points, that reads “Welcome to Simi Valley, Home of America’s Dump,” an unusual headline from a candidate hoping to be Mayor of Simi Valley.
The ad begins with a quote from the landfill taskforce that the landfill expansion will serve as a permanent barrier to White Face Mountain. The landfill elevation already obscures the view of White Face Mountain when traveling on the 118 freeway from Moorpark into Simi Valley. When traveling at normal speeds, the view is obstructed for approximately 2 seconds. That current obscurity will increase in height per the expansion. White Face Mountain WILL NEVER BE HIDDEN from view for the City of Simi Valley. For more perspective, the maximum proposed height of 1270 feet is actually lower in elevation than the upper half of Big Sky, and the mountains behind the landfill are approximately 1000 feet taller than the proposed max.
The ad indicates that Waste Management will triple the number of trucks. That is incorrect. To start, Waste Management will increase their total daily trips to the landfill by 70 from their current permitted count of 822. This will bring their permitted count to 892 daily trips to the landfill. The expansion authorizes the total number of trips to 1297, however that is over the course of their entire build out period and is representative of all of their divisions (i.e. dumping, green energy, recycling, etc.). This does NOT mean that when the landfill expansion is approved, 1297 trucks will start climbing the hill every day. Also, 405 of those daily trips represent Waste Management employees, as part of the expansion includes locating all employees at the landfill site.
The ad suggests that annexation must start immediately to authorize the City to approve the landfill expansion. What the ad fails to mention is the annexation process takes approximately 3 – 4 years to complete, and during that time period as space becomes limited, Waste Management is already authorized to begin making use of land they own that is visible from the 118 freeway. One purpose of the expansion is to allow for landfill operations to expand behind the mountains, out of view, while also providing for new facilities to park their trucks at the landfill location instead of the separate structure on Easy Street, ultimately reducing traffic on Madera. Not to mention, Waste Management as the land owner MUST AGREE to be annexed and is unlikely to do so to enhance anyone’s political agenda.
The ad mentions that we don’t want Los Angeles trash. I suppose it would be ideal if our landfill contained strictly Simi Valley trash, but being a regional landfill, that’s not the case. Suppose we insist that the landfill close when capacity is reached. Then we will need our garbage shipped out to a landfill outside of our area, much like the Los Angeles trash the ad is referring to. Packaging and transporting trash comes at a cost, a cost that would likely be passed to customers. Isn’t a better use of our time to approach Waste Management and request added benefits like discounted rates due to any measureable environmental impact of the expansion rather to insist that it be halted at a potential cost to residents?
Lastly, in a blatant attempt to stir emotions, the ad mentions that the City is carrying on “secret back room negotiations.” This is nonsense. As it stands currently, the City has practically no leverage for mutually beneficial “back room” negotiations. Furthermore, City Council has committed to updating the public on record of the progress of their discussions Waste Management. Due to the lengthy and complex nature of the discussions which involve detailed reviews of the environmental impact report, the discussions are NOT being held during public City Council meetings. To date, Waste Management has met with all Neighborhood Councils, has been before the Planning Commission twice, been before the City Council twice, participated in many City Council meetings regarding the expansion, has participated in two draft EIRs and has encouraged public commentary on both EIRs. Where are the secret back room negotiations?
In an attempt to give his campaign a boost, Bob Huber hastily published this advertisement that serves to mislead and misinform the reader. His suggestions would actually force Waste Management to begin dumping in areas that are visible to the freeway! Finally, he is alienating a valuable member of our business community who has cooperated with City officials and landfill taskforce representatives voluntarily for several years. This ad serves as an example of political mythology with the aim of striking fear in voters. It is the worst kind of politics.