Paradise City Council reluctantly approves food ordinance – Paradise Post

Paradise City Council narrowly approved a food waste ordinance by a 3-2 vote Tuesday night to comply with the new state law, despite objections and concerns from all five councillors.

The regulation stems from Senate Bill 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, passed in 2016, which requires the state to reduce the disposal of organic waste (food waste, green waste, paper products, etc.) by 75% by 2025.

Nationally, that equates to a reduction of 20 million tons per year by 2025. The law also requires the state to increase edible food recovery by 20% by 2025.

To that end, this state requires all local entities to update their local waste ordinances to meet the requirements of the law.

According to the state, cities must make biowaste collection available to all residents and businesses and establish an edible food recovery program that recovers edible food from the waste stream. They must also conduct outreach and training for all parties involved, including generators, shippers, facilities, edible food recycling organizations, and city departments.

The state will also assess the willingness of jurisdictions to implement the new law. Local businesses must purchase recycled organic waste products such as compost, mulch, and renewable natural gas. They must also review and enforce the new law and keep records of compliance.

Tuesday night’s ordinance approval comes after Cal Recycle denied Paradise’s request for a low population waiver despite fewer than 8,000 people residing within city limits. Susan Hartman, community development director for planning and sanitation, told the council there were currently unknown costs associated with the ordinance and that the ordinance’s passage Tuesday night would not create any new costs.

“With all the unfunded government mandates that are popping up, we just don’t know what it’s going to be like in the end,” she said.

She added that the staffing infrastructure that existed before the bonfire between the city and the city’s garbage truck, Northern Recycling Waste Services, has completely disappeared.

Councilor Jody Jones asked Hartman to clarify that the state requires the city to purchase recycled organic waste products such as compost, mulch, and renewable natural gas, regardless of whether the city actually needs those items or not.

Hartman said yes, but the city could work with an organization that needs these things on behalf of the city.

“But what happens if we can’t find partners and we don’t need the materials,” Jones asked. “What the hell are we going to do with them?”

That prompted both Jones and councilman Greg Bolin to wonder what would the state do with Paradise if the city said no?

“They say they’re going to fine us,” Hartman said. “I couldn’t give you an amount.”

Bolin replied: “Make it here; we just send them our compost.”

Jones then said that getting the money from the jurisdictions could be difficult for the state.

“Good luck raising the money,” she said. “I mean, you know, we find people all the time, we never get the money.”

Hartman said if the city has some apartment buildings in the city, it could work with them when they need the compost to spread on their properties.

Council member Steve “Woody” Culleton said nobody knows exactly how the new law will be implemented, including the state, which argues everyone is opposed to it.

“If you draw a building permit for the full construction according to this law. Your landscape design has to have a certain percentage of compostable waste and all that stuff,” he said, adding that new state law requires the City of Paradise to purchase paper products that contain at least 30% recyclable material.

Afterward, Jones asked, “What would this state do if all the cities and towns just said no, they wouldn’t do it?”

City Attorney Scott E. Huber responded by saying the state could withhold subsidy, sales tax and/or property tax funds, but he doubted the state would withhold sales tax and property tax funds.

He also told Jones that the problem with the “everybody says no” philosophy is that based on his personal experience representing school districts, it rarely happens that way.

“Everybody’s banging their fists and saying, ‘What if we just say no?'” Huber said. “The number of those who actually say no is very small. They give way, so you end up sticking your neck out while the others step on them as they walk over you.”

Huber said he wished he had better news for the council, but would always tell them directly.

“I wish others would stand together and say, ‘Yeah, we don’t do that,'” he said. “And in this situation the state could not do anything. They couldn’t enforce it.”

Both Culleton and Councilwoman Rose Tryon, who is a member of the Solid Waste Committee, told Bolin the new law would require the city’s garbage collectors to purchase a brand-new food-waste-only truck and would require every customer to have a food-waste-only bin – which would mean increased costs for the Paradise resident.

“I was like, OK, great, we’ll just toss it in our green waste and we’re done with that,” Tryon said. “But for some reason they don’t want that because they want to try to recycle the food.”

She said the problem is that rural areas like Paradise don’t have recycling for this purpose.

“There’s no place to take it yet,” Culleton said. “The state hasn’t even figured it out yet. We just need to update our regulation because it’s a law.”

He added that the only hope he can give his fellow citizens is that it’s a law that doesn’t work at this time, saying the law requires the material to be taken to a licensed recycler will, of which there is none in this state at this time.

“It’s a bitter pill and we just have to change our regulation,” he said.

Hartman said the city has asked the state to extend enforcement of the measures through 2025.

Bolin, very reluctantly, eventually voted in favor of the ordinance. Along with Culleton, Jones and Tryon voted no, leaving the casting vote to Mayor Steve Crowder, who voted yes and said, “Yes, welcome to California.”

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