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County approves construction and demolition recycling ordinance


Last updated 4/5/2007 at Noon

A new county ordinance will require recycling for construction and demolition materials.

The ordinance seeks a gradual target of 90 percent for inert materials and 70 percent for other materials. Although construction and demolition companies would not be subject to the requirements if they can prove that they cannot feasibly meet that ratio, the recycling at that rate is expected to divert 150,000 tons of materials from landfills each year.

Approximately one million tons of material each year is deposited into the county’s landfills. “We’re hoping that this ordinance will go a long way towards reducing that amount,” said Wayne Williams, the program manager of the solid waste planning and recycling section in the county’s Department of Public Works.

While the additional landfill diversion would allow the county to sustain a state-mandated 50 percent recycling rate, the county has been working with business organizations to minimize impact to industry. “We’re going to assist them in meeting the goal,” said Department of Public Works deputy director Donna Turbyfill. “We didn’t want to make this really hard for business.”

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the first reading and introduction of the ordinance February 28 and approved a second reading and adoption March 21. The only speaker who filed a speaker slip in opposition at the February 28 hearing was Jerry Livingston of the Building Industry Association, but Livingston indicated that he was merely concerned rather than truly in opposition. The ordinance includes a performance guarantee, and Livingston asked for the option of a surety bond as well as the options of a cash deposit or an irrevocable letter of credit. The supervisors added that option February 28 and also directed that the ordinance be reviewed after one year. The ordinance will take effect April 20.

Jon Cloud filed a speaker slip in favor of the ordinance February 28 but noted the need for a review period. “It should be a good thing,” Cloud said.

Cloud noted that sufficient recycling facilities must exist to meet the ordinance’s diversion rates. “There’s not enough facilities here in San Diego County that already do that type of recycling,” he said. “They need to encourage people to build these types of facilities.”

The county’s previous planning had also recognized that need. In December 2004 the supervisors authorized a request for proposals for technical assistance grant funding for a mixed recycling facility which would allow construction and demolition workers to place all recyclable materials in a single bin rather than separate each type of material.

SANCO, a subsidiary of EDCO, was the successful bidder on that mixed recycling facility and matched the county’s $400,000 grant with $800,000 of its own money. The facility in Lemon Grove opened on January 15, 2007, and currently has a capacity of 1,000 tons per day. “Looks like they’re doing a good job,” Williams said.

“That helps a lot,” Turbyfill said. “It’s really helpful to be able to take it to one place.”

The ordinance requires applicants for a project subject to a stipulated threshold to submit a completed debris management plan which includes the type of project, the total square footage, the estimated volume or weight of construction and demolition debris by material type, the maximum volume which can feasibly be diverted through re-use or recycling, the estimated volume or weight which would be disposed of in a landfill, and proposed recycling facilities to be used. The applicant submits the waste plan in conjunction with the building permit.

“It’s probably the most streamlined ordinance in the state right now on construction and demolition,” Williams said.

While the county sought to streamline the process, it also sought a waste plan consistent with other jurisdictions to make matters easier for construction and demolition companies. “This has taken four years, and we’ve had tremendous community input from all the stakeholders,” Williams said. “We’re very pleased about it up to this point.”

The current threshold is 40,000 square feet or greater, which would affect approximately 35 to 40 projects during the first year. “If we feel we can handle a higher load, then we will go to the board and request that particular level be reduced,” Williams said.

The performance guarantee payment is currently 20 cents per square foot with maximum amounts subject to the guarantee of 125,000 square feet for detached residential, 100,000 square feet for attached residential, 75,000 square feet for industrial, and 40,000 square feet for commercial. The deposits will be returned with interest upon the county’s determination of full compliance or pro-rated based on the degree of compliance; forfeited guarantees including interest will first be used to recover the county’s administrative costs while any remaining funds from the forfeited amount will be used only for programs to develop or improve the infrastructure for construction and demolition debris.

Inert materials include rock, concrete, and asphalt while other materials include cardboard, carpet, and windows and doors.

While Michael Thometz often addresses the supervisors on backcountry issues, professionally he has been in the recycling business since 1986. “The C&D ordinance is a great thing,” he said. “It should have been done a long time ago.”

Although the county did not previously have an ordinance, the Department of Public Works previously printed a construction and demolition recycling guide. DPW will revise that brochure, last updated in 2004, and will also hold workshops.

“We’re doing what the supervisors told us to do and really looking forward to this evolving into a solid, sustainable program,” Williams said.


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