March 8, 2011
Walter Hays' response to February 11 complaint
(erroneously dated March 8, 2010)
informing SLC of intent of (future) Measure E



PALO ALTO GREEN ENERGY AND COMPOST INITIATIVE
March 8, 2010

Curtis Fossum
Executive Officer
State Lands Commission

Jennifer Lucchesi
Chief Counsel
State Lands Commission

Re: Response to complaint filed February 10 by Jordan, Pearson and Renzel

Dear Mr. Fossum and Ms. Lucchesi:

I am writing as one of the three principal sponsors of the Palo Alto Green Energy and Compost Initiative ("the Initiative") currently being circulated, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit "A." As did the Complainants, we enclose as Exhibits "B1, 2, and 3" brief resumes indicating our equally long and substantial involvement with civic and environmental issues.

The complaint engages in a lengthy history and analysis of the Lease between the Commission (SLC) and the City of Palo Alto (City) and the amendments thereto. We acknowledge that they describe the ultimate use of the various parcels of the current landfill as "public park." However, the history of relations between the parties indicates a pattern of much greater flexibility and informality than would appear from the formal language of those documents. As evidence of that pattern, attached are Exhibits "C1," an email dated January 6, 2009 from Sean Kennedy, Superintendent of Public Works Operations for the City to Nanci Smith of the SLC, and "C2," Ms. Smith's response, with the latter indicating, among other things, that

1. "Composting is a permissible trust use, so long as it is regional and has benefit to the people of the State of California."

2. "An amendment to the lease would be required after the City has approved the use through the CEQA process." (Italics added.)

Assuming that the foregoing correspondence states the appropriate guidelines for amendments to the current Lease, it would appear that the complaint raises two issues, namely:

1. Is the use proposed in the Initiative a "permissible trust use;" and if so,

2. What is the appropriate timing and procedure for amending the Lease to permit it?

The Use Proposed in the Initiative is Permissible Under the Public Trust.

The Mission Statement of the SLC provides that its staff "serves the people of California by providing stewardship of the lands, waterways, and resources entrusted to its care through economic development, protection, preservation, and restoration." In interpreting that mission, a resolution adopted by the SLC on October 16, 2008, reads in part as follows:

"WHEREAS, California's current energy use is taking a financial toll on its citizens and the economy, as well as making the State more dependent on foreign oil; and

WHEREAS, the use of traditional energy sources has caused detrimental effects on the environment by polluting the air and contributing to climate change; and

WHEREAS, California is already feeling the effects of climate change through sea level rise, changes in snow melting patterns, extreme weather, and threats to species ... ; and

WHEREAS, in response to the climate change challenge, California has taken the environmental lead, nationally and internationally, by officially adopting a policy to reduce C02 emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; and ... [more of the same; a full copy of the resolution is attached as Exhibit "D."].

It would be hard to find a an [sic] action more strongly consistent with the foregoing policies than the Initiative:

1. As indicated in Finding (a) of Section 1 of the Initiative (and admitted by the complainants), current plans, once the landfill is closed call for trucking yard trimmings and food scraps to Gilroy and/ or San Jose, generating significant greenhouse gases.

2. As noted in Finding (b), the current system for handling sewage sludge involves incineration (one of only two cities in the State to do so). This consumes huge amounts of energy and generates approximately 6,000 tons/year of CO2.

3. About 40 years ago, before people were aware of the threat of climate change, the City dedicated the entire landfill to be added to Byxbee Park, and the citizens passed an initiative providing that no parkland can be undedicated except by popular vote. In compliance with that requirement, the Initiative would undedicate 10 out of 126 acres of the landfill, immediately adjacent to the sewage treatment plant (see illustrative map attached to Exhibit "A") for development of an anaerobic digestion facility that would (a) end remote trucking and incineration; and instead (b) produce green energy (methane) and compost.

4. The wastewater plant is covered by a separate lease with the SLC, offering further evidence that environmental treatment of waste is compatible with the Public Trust. It is also regional, so anaerobic digestion of the sludge would serve a regional purpose. In short, the whole purpose of the Initiative is to implement, on the local level, the policies set forth in the resolution attached as Exhibit "D."

As Indicated in the Correspondence Attached as Exhibits "C1 and 2." the Appropriate Time for Amending the Lease to Permit the Use Called for in the Initiative Would Be After (1) the Initiative has Passed: and (2) the City Has Completed the CEQA Process.

There is no point in amending the Lease while the Initiative is pending, and California law provides that in the case of a citizen initiative, the CEQA process does not begin unless and until the initiative passes.

We would be happy to meet with you or other representatives of the SLC to discuss these issues further.

Based on the foregoing arguments, we request that the Commission

1. Deny the relief requested by the complainants; and

2. Defer further amendment of the Lease until after the vote on the Initiative; and if it passes, after completion of the CEQA process.

Very truly yours,
- on behalf of myself, Peter Dreckmeier [sic], Robert Wenzlau.
and the over 5,000 citizens who have signed the Initiative,


Walter V. Hays
355 Parkside Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 424-9633
wkhays@igc.org