During a city council meeting last May, Chris Gonaver, Director of Environmental Services, told councilmembers that the City would no longer be using an outside environmental management program at Miramar Landfill. Instead, stated Gonaver, the city would implement an in-house environmental program.
Later that day, Mayor Sanders said he was looking to outsource operations at the landfill.
Some residents opposed privatizing the landfill. They claimed the City was easing environmental regulations to facilitate the transfer. On Wednesday, February 2, during the Natural Resource and Culture Committee meeting, Gonaver addressed their concerns.
"The perception is that relinquishing the certification was somehow going to make the landfill more easily salable," said Gonaver. "There is no connection. We recognized that we could save $80,000 a year on certification."
Members of the audience were not convinced.
"There's been very little transparency in this process," said former city councilmember Michael Zucchet. "The public is completely in the dark. The ISO [certification] was a source of pride. I don't see how a reasonable person could put it all together and say that this is a coincidence."
Councilmember Carl DeMaio later commented on Zucchet's claims that the city was undoing environmental practices at Miramar. "This has more to do with people not trusting the private sector and not liking competition. It sounds as though we'll basically let the landfill turn into something you would see in third-world countries. That's not the intention."
The city is reviewing the bids from private companies and expects to release the proposal next month.