Oh…my…Lord…there were two-and-a-half hours of public participation at tonight’s City Council meeting. At 3 minutes max per comment, that’s a lot of Claritans with a lot to say. I am in the midst of a rather demanding project right now (thus the dearth of new posts for the past couple of weeks), but things will be considerably better starting next Wednesday. In any case, work and a vociferous public have dictated that I restrict my recap to the public participation portion of tonight’s City Council meeting.
The onslaught of oration began with anti-Burrtec comments, part deux. All Burrtec wants to do is install a Materials Recycling Facility (i.e., indoor dump with high turnover of garbage) next to some Newhall/Canyon Country neighborhoods. But the fine people of Santa Clarita simply will not have said MRF nor the 872 truck trips a day that come with it.
I lost count of commentors after a while because they all seemed to converge on a few common messages. I’ve enumerated these for your convenience:
1. The proposed MRF will be smelly, ugly, and generally unpleasant to live next to.
2. It’s not technically a dump, but there will always be trash present at the facility, so it might as well be a dump.
3. Nearly 1000 garbage trucks every day plus the cars of MRF personnel would make not for traffic headaches but traffic migraines on Sierra Highway.
4. The MRF should be sited next to an existing landfill, not a neighborhood.
Some took things to a personal level when it came to this heated issue. At least two Santa Claritans called out Councilmember Marsha McLean, who took several minutes to complain about an ugly electrical pole earlier in the evening. One woman said “Worried about an unsightly utility pole? Try a dump.” Cringeworthy, no? Other commenters noted that this was a sensitive time with City Council seats up for grabs, and the Council should be more responsive to the public outcry against the MRF. Still others pointed out what they thought was blatant hypocrisy: the City opposes CEMEX on the grounds of pollution and traffic aggravation, but they’re not unified in opposition to the Burrtec MRF that will bring about its own pollution and traffic problems.
Throughout this barrage, Ken Pulskamp and Mayor Kellar made feeble attempts to fight back. Our City Manager told us that “the City is not proposing it [the MRF]; Burrtec is proposing it.” Mayor Kellar reminded everyone that they were only entertaining an environmental impact report, not signing off on the project. But even with these reminders and the Mayor’s request that the audience withhold applause, there was much clapping for Alan Ferdman when he claimed that it was "inappropriate" to so much as consider the MRF. In short, Pleasant Valley and other homeowners made their stance clear: a Materials Recycling Facility off Sierra Highway is completely unacceptable. The attack may be preemptive, even premature, but homeowners want to be sure their opposition is heeded.
Then there were comments targeting Mayor Bob Kellar. Bruce McFarland demanded Kellar follow-the-rules-or-resign not once but twice in a three-minute speech (this is in relation to Kellar's failure to disclose annual earnings, something required of California public officials). Lynne Plambeck looked like she needed a hug as she spoke about how nasty Scott Wilk (who is now working on the re-elect Kellar campaign) has been to her in election mailers through the years. Kellar responded per usual by saying “Thank you Mr./Mrs./Ms. So-and-so. Our next speaker is…” Only after everyone had their turn did he defend himself. I’m not sure who to side with in these Kellar-centered debates. There are conflicting signals. Critics imply improprieties because Kellar has his hands in both City business and the real estate business. At the same time, Kellar comes off as a stoic, generally decent guy who seems like he’s trying to keep his public and private lives separate--who can blame him? Whichever of the two it is, it’s clear that serving on the City Council and trying to lead a private life in Santa Clarita can cause for some serious friction.
I fully recognize that many insanely important things happened after the first three hours of City Council this evening, but for tonight, this shall have to do.