San Diego Is Selling Off Its Only Landfill Which Does Not Make Sense

by on February 1, 2011 · 6 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Labor, San Diego

Center for Policy Initiatives / January 31, 2011

The City of San Diego is quietly selling off its only landfill, a move that will impact every San Diego resident and business, and the environment.

Besides providing a place to put a million tons of trash a year, Miramar Landfill is a moneymaker for the City and provides many benefits that are likely to be degraded or lost under the proposed 35-year lease to a private operator.

A new Center for Policy Initiative (CPI)  report lists major benefits now provided by the landfill, including:

  • Revenue from the landfill pays for its own operation plus community services like canyon cleanups, recycling programs, dead animal pickup and trash collection from public trash cans throughout the city. If Miramar is privatized, that revenue goes to the private operator. What happens to the services?
  • Low fees for dumping by individuals and businesses, plus free dumping for many nonprofits. Privatization likely will more than double the fees to the level charged at the privately-operated Sycamore landfill.
  • Green recycling that produces free mulch and compost for city residents, businesses and community gardens. Recycling also extends the life of the landfill.

CPI analyzed the City’s description of the proposed privatization contract, and found significant omissions that will lower service levels and environmental standards, increase costs for many, and decrease public accountability.

One big thing missing will be the internationally certified environmental management system at Miramar. The city dropped the certification, known as ISO 14001, shortly before seeking bids in July from private operators, and is not requiring bidders to meet the same standards. CPI, the Sierra Club and other local groups have warned of potential air and water pollution, as well as harm to sensitive habitats and endangered species, if the landfill is privatized. A City Council committee is considering restoring the environmental standards, and will hear a response from the Mayor’s staff this Wednesday [Feb 2, 2011].

The privatization track record contains plenty of evidence of higher fees, degraded services and lost accountability when for-profit companies take over valuable public assets. Help us stop a shortsighted financial decision full of long-term risks for San Diegans.

  • Please sign our petition opposing privatization of Miramar Landfill, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same: .
  • Join our new Facebook cause, Public Services for the Public Good ! Please share the cause with your friends and watch for updates on the sale of your landfill!

To learn more about the landfill and the likely changes with privatization, see

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter February 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

selling off the landfill makes perfect sense if you’ve received major campaign contributions from the companies that are in the running to buy it. and it’s a way to ease the taxpayers into the notion that the City can save money by privatizing services. it’s win-win! for the corporations and the politicians they fund.

for the people, not so much.


annagrace February 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I suspect that the good citizens have not realized that privatizing the landfill means the end of “free” residential trash pick up.


ss February 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I don’t have a problem paying for trash pick up but privatization is so wrong in so many way. A short term fix for a long term problem. Private companies have to show a profit, and that is ok, but when the don’t they start to cheat or cut back some where and that is when the citizens of SD lose and lose they will.
The good citizens have to realize that nothing is free and we have to pay our way and it is much better to pay it to the city government in fees and taxes that will spend it in SD than the private corp the will give to the stock holders all over the world. To bad we lose


annagrace February 2, 2011 at 8:04 am

Quite right ss. A $10/mo fee for the city to pick up our residential trash has been discussed for the past few years as a way to bridge the budget deficit. The public outcry was immediate. There will be no free pickup if the landfill is privatized and the community services listed above will be in jeopardy. Privatization is not a fiscally sound decision and I hope everyone is signing the petition and contacting the city council and mayor.


Momentum858 February 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm

There are increasing number of waste to energy applications emerging. Someone else will profit from this landfill instead of the city that could utilize it to place itself in a stronger financial position.


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