Friday, September 23, 2011

Committee for Green Foothills Urges Palo Alto to Vote No on Measure E, has a better plan for climate change and open space

Statement of the CGF's Board of Directors:

Committee for Green Foothills Board of Directors urges a no vote on Palo Alto’s Measure E.

The Board of Directors of the Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) recognizes that its mission of protecting the open space and natural resources in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties may on occasion require balancing competing valid environmental interests. In the case of Measure E in Palo Alto, we find that the un-dedication of parkland for potential gains on greenhouse gas emissions, based in part on unproven composting techniques, and with no guaranty provided that the loss of the open space would be mitigated by other open space, or that a dedicated funding source for restoration of Byxbee Park would be created, is not a trade-off that the Board believes is consistent with its mission. We support replacing the sewage treatment plant incinerator with a composting operation at the RWQCP because this would reduce the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions promised by Measure E proponents, without unnecessarily compromising open space. Therefore, CGF goes on record opposing Measure E. 

UPDATE:  CGF also emailed this explanatory statement to Measure E advocates and opponents:

CGF's Board of Directors thanks the supporters and opponents of Measure E for the information and assistance in developing its opinion, and acknowledges the reasonable arguments, good intentions, and strong environmental interests on both sides.  After over an hour of discussion, and while agreeing with Measure E supporters that climate change is an open space issue with open space impacts, the Board unanimously voted that it opposes Measure E as unnecessarily impacting open space.  Instead of passing Measure E, CGF suggests a compromise with people primarily concerned with climate change, that we all work together to replace the sewage plant incinerator with a composting operation at the plant instead of at Byxbee, and that we also work together to get the funding to renovate Byxbee.  If Measure E fails, this is a way that both sides can work together.  The Board also noted its appreciation of Measure E supporters stating that they want a "no net loss" of parkland, so if Measure E passes, this is also something we could work together on in the future.


  1. Palo Alto enjoyed 30 years of composting at this site, and 30 years of recycling. Your position helps seal the loss of these resources. This was a composting site before the parkland advocates started their campaign. My own engagement began when I was told our local composting operation was being forced to close by action embedded in the park dedication. Shame on you for being party to the closure of 30 years of composting and recycling at this location.

    Stanford scientists and environmental engineers have supported this from a scientific basis. Your decision lacks a scientific view and the Board seems to have arrived at this outcome sympathetic only to a narrow park view. The task force that worked on this identified numerous mitigation options that the City could not allow into the Initiative, but are planned. The city, and even the opponents, have been party to adjusting park lines to accomodate civic goals.

    We enjoyed 30 years of local Palo Alto composting and recycling at this site. We wish this local option to continue. Palo Alto will win this Measure E, and it is unfortunate your Board decided not to engage in getting fuller background.

  2. Dear Mr. Wenzlau: we respect your enthusiasm for the composting operation but disagree with some of your assertions. The publicly-accessible, undeveloped open space long precedes the landfill and any other use of the area and was promised to return. We believe a deal is a deal, and the best interest of the public is to compost the water plant biosolids at the water plant, saving greenhouse gas emissions there, and fulfilling the promise made to the public some 40 years ago.