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94 14 The Development of the Sierra Point Landfill The practice of dumping in the bay and burning the garbage continued until 1952, when the current Bayshore Freeway blocked off the landfill. The residents of San Mateo County began to notice the pungent odor of garbage being dumped in saltwater and the smoke from burning fires. As a result of their legitimate complaints, we changed our methods of operation and pioneered what was to be known as a true sanitary landfill operation. We eliminated the odors but also demonstrated the need for a higher standard of waste disposal. Although our new operations were state of the art at the time, they still resulted in some negative environmental effects, such as groundwater pollution and methane gas migration. Sanitary Fill Company eventually blocked off all the bay waters to the landfill and ordered cells receiving waste to be covered daily. Engineering projections suggested that the bays currently diked offsite, as well as a lagoon just south of the sanitary landfill site, would continue to be used, giving San Francisco a disposal site until 2020. That was a bad assumption, though, because Southern Paci­ fic Railroad received a complaint from Van Waters & Rogers, Inc., a company that shipped about $80 million worth of goods on the railroad. Van Waters & Rogers protested that they didn’t want a garbage dump in their front yard. To complicate matters, the lagoon was subject to tidal action and came under the jurisdiction of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). Filling it would require another costly and time-consuming effort. As a result, Southern Pacific told Sanitary Fill Company in 1960 that once the site was full, we would have to seek another loca­ tion. In response to the public outcry, Southern Pacific wouldn’t allow the lagoon to be filled with garbage. Our engineers calculated that at the current rate of fill, this site’s useful life would end sometime in 1968. I wasn’t involved with that matter at the time, but records show that Sanitary Fill Company notified San Francisco of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s intention to terminate use of that site sometime 95 The Development of the Sierra Point Landfill in 1968. The City of San Francisco urged the scavengers to seek additional bay lands to expand existing operations. At that time, bay fill was a generally acceptable means of reclamation. It was not considered “ruination,” as it would soon be called. As the new freeway blocked off all access to the bay from the dump’s current location, the only site available became Sierra Point. The Crocker Land Company, which owned San Bruno Mountain and the submerged tidelands associated with it, did not want to sell the property because the company anticipated a southern crossing for a new bay bridge. Sierra Point was the center point for the proposed bridge. When the City of San Francisco put political pressure on Crocker Land Company, the company reluctantly agreed to sell us the submerged tidelands, some 260 acres, but retained an easement on the property to gain access if the projected bay crossing became a reality. This easement could reduce any potential value of the property once the bay was filled. We had to consider that possibility because it had the capacity to contain San Francisco’s disposal for at least twenty-five years. The price of the property was an outrageous $4,000 per acre— similarly submerged land was selling at the time for $50 per acre. But Crocker Land Company knew we had no other site available, and the city knew damned well that we—the city, scavengers, and ratepayers—were all being screwed. The city had proposed that we borrow the money and provided us with a twenty-year disposal contract to pay for it through customer rates. That was when we found that, because the scavengers had always paid cash for everything, the company had no record of borrowing money. Because of that lack of credit history, even Bank of America (which the scavengers had done business with since it was the Bank of Italy) would not lend the projected $2.1 million needed to buy and develop the property. As a result, we had to seek a secondary source of funding, which proved to be a very expensive process with Occidental Life Insurance Company. Bank of America agreed to lend us $600,000; Occidental lent us $1.5 million. This was all accomplished in 1962, prior to my...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780874175592
Related ISBN
9781943859399
MARC Record
OCLC
1001968451
Pages
244
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-27
Language
English
Open Access
No
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