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Critics Trash Plan To Outsource Miramar Landfill

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Aired 7/13/11

It may get dirty deciding who will manage the Miramar Landfill in the future. The full San Diego City Council will now weigh in on the issue.

— At first the mayor’s office wanted to sell the landfill, but no one wanted to buy it. Now the mayor’s office wants to put the operation of Miramar through the managed competition process, meaning private businesses will be invited to compete with city employees for the most cost efficient management plan.

Bulldozers push around piles of trash at San Diego's Miramar Landfill.

The proposal to put Miramar Landfill out to bid made it through the council's Rules Committee today after being rejected once before. But Councilwoman Marti Emerald still wasn’t convinced.

“I honestly believe this is an irresponsible waste of taxpayer money, trying to tinker with a department that is an example of how government should work,” she said.

Critics of the plan contend the landfill already runs efficiently and brings in revenue that supports other city operations. They say a private company would be hard to monitor and could lead to environmental and financial problems.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner joined Emerald in opposing the measure. Lightner requested additional information and wanted to see anything produced by a consultant the city paid $500,000 to help with the possible sale of the landfill last fall.

But despite these reservations, a majority of the committee voted to forward the issue onto the full council. Councilman Tony Young, Kevin Faulconer and Todd Gloria supported moving the proposal on. San Diego’s Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone told KPBS’s Midday Edition there are a lot of privately operated landfills.

“And there are companies out there that are very capable of running this efficiently, while still protecting all the environmental concerns that got raised,” he said.

If the outsourcing proposal is ultimately approved by the city, the Navy will have to weigh in as well, since it owns the property to landfill occupies. If it is approved, bidding would not begin until November. A winner would probably not be selected until next spring.

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