I have been asked about the latest developments regarding the Newby Island Landfill situation.
For those of you that are not aware of this issue, the Newby Island Landfill is undergoing review by the San Jose Planning Commission for a possible expansion. This landfill is just west of the Dixon Landing exit off 880 right on the Milpitas/Fremont borders and about 2000 feet away from the south end of Fremont Blvd).
Even within its current confines, a significant amount of excess odor from the landfill can often be experienced by residents in south Fremont and Milpitas. The landfill was scheduled to close in 2025, providing the hope that there is an "end-in-sight" to these problems.
However, the San Jose Planning Commission is now deciding whether to (a) expand the landfill; and (b) extend the operational date of the landfill from 2025 until 2041. As everyone can imagine, given the existing odor problems, the prospect of expanding the landfill and extending the closing date is rather alarming.
This issue was on the agenda of the San Jose Planning Commission meeting last week, with numerous residents from both Milpitas and Fremont protesting the planned expansion. In the end, the final decision was deferred until the SJ planning commission meeting on December 17, 2016.
The question I have been asked is what can be done by Fremont to address the concerns of our residents when a decision like this rests in the hands of another city (San Jose).
The answer is that we as a city can act proactively and cooperatively with other cities to make our concerns known and to help guide results that make sense for residents of both cities.
By way of example, consider the proposal that was recently made in San Luis Obispo to build a rail spur for hauling crude oil that would have resulted in haulage of about 2.2 million gallons of crude oil per week from SLO to Oakland right smack through the middle of Fremont. As you can imagine, there are some very serious environmental concerns with a plan to run this volume of crude oil though our city on a regular basis.
Vinnie Bacon and I led the charge to make our concerns felt to the city of San Luis Obispo. In the end, with the input from Fremont and other like-minded cities, the planning commission for San Luis Obispo rejected the proposal.
We can use a similar approach to proactively work with our neighbors (San Jose and Milpitas) to address the Newby Island issue, particularly when the situation involves sensitive environmental questions as exists here (and existed with the SLO oil train situation). Instead of just waiting to see what happens with Newby Island and dealing with the aftermath after the decision has already been made, we can and should get ahead of the game by having our Council and city staff already working with neighboring cities on possible solutions.
With this in mind, a referral will be proposed for this issue in an upcoming Council meeting.