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San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders abandoned his plan to sell off the city's Miramar landfill--a move he once billed as crucial to his financial recovery plan--back in February of last year, when three firms backed out of the bidding without making offers.

Sanders had spent the previous seven months courting the companies, Allied Waste Services, Texas Disposal Systems, and Waste Management, during a controversial process criticized by labor and environmental groups.

After the non-bidding ended, prospective bidders said they were worried about environmental liability and whether the Pentagon, which owns the land on which the landfill sits, would sign off.

In September of last year, in a 5-3 vote, the city council approved Sanders's revised plan to put operation of the 1400-acre facility up for bid under the city's so-called managed competition program, in which private outfits compete with existing city departments to see who can come up with the best price.

The operation currently costs the city about $34 million a year to run, reports say.

Republicans Carl DeMaio, Kevin Faulconer, and Lorie Zapf, along with Democrats Sherri Lightner and Tony Young voted yes, while Democrats Marti Emerald, David Alvarez, and Todd Gloria were opposed.

Because wheels grind slowly at city hall, it took until late last month for the bidding to actually start, but now that it has, the process will be quick.

Notice came in the form of a "request for proposal" posted on the city's website February 28.

Comments and questions from prospective bidders are due March 14, a "mandatory site tour" is set for March 21, and the proposed closing of bids is April 18.

Update: Susan Duerksen, Communications Director, Center on Policy Initiatives, an opponent of the privatization proposal, has emailed us to dispute the $34 million cost figure we cited above, saying "the landfill operation funds community services, besides paying for itself."

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Visduh March 8, 2012 @ 7:53 p.m.

In regard to the original proposal to "sell" the landfill, how can the city sell something it does not own? That is now federal property, and would require an act of Congress to allow the city to sell it. But this bidding process seems guaranteed to either fail, or to produce a few bids from players who have been sitting on the sidelines for years and who know just what this could be worth to them. And the fix goes on.


Twister March 8, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m.

"Managed competition" my rosy red! Private companies cannot do the same work unless they can cut costs like poorly-paid employees, and if my guess is correct there aren't that many employees involved. This smells of a back door deal to make the taxpayers walk out on the plank, then force some kind of "assessment district" con onto them so the gang that gets the contract can rake in the inflated bucks.

Right now (if I remember correctly), as a City operation, the money has to come out of the general fund. Keep up the good work Matt.


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