Sierra Club Yolano Group 2018 Council Candidates Part 4 – Waste Management and Water Management & Conservation

By Alan Pryor

The Sierra Club Yolano Group recently provided a questionnaires for Davis City Council candidates in which we asked for written responses on a wide range of environmentally-related issues of importance to the local electorate and our members in the following general categories:

  1. Land Use & Housing Development (http://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/04/sierra-club-yolano-group-2018-council-candidates-part-2-land-use-housing-development-questions/#)
  2. Energy Use and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) (http://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/04/sierra-club-yolano-group-2018-council-candidates-part-3-energy-use-greenhouse-gases/)
  3. Waste Management
  4. Water Management & Conservation
  5. Transportation Management
  6. Toxics in the Environment
  7. Other Environmental Concerns
  8. Financial Contributors

An introductory article in the Davis Vanguard explaining the process and listing all of the questions together can be found at http://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/04/sierra-club-yolano-group-2018-questionnaire-davis-city-council-candidates/.

Because of the extraordinarily large number of candidates vying for the 2 available seats and the amount of space it would require to report all of the responses in a single article, we are reporting the answers in one or two general categories per day. This is the 4th in this series and will have questions and answers on Waste Management and Water Management & Conservation.

This article asks questions about the following issues in order:

  • Recyclable or Compostable Take-out & In-Restaurant Food and Drink Containers
  • Commercial & Multi-Family Recycling and Food Waste Collection
  • Water Conservation
  • Fluoridation of Municipal Water

Additional articles with answers in other categories will be provided in subsequent articles in the order of the categories given above. Previous Vanguard articles with questions and candidate answers in other general categories can be accessed by clicking on the link following the category in the list above.

This candidate responses are in the same order for each question to facilitate review. The order in the first article on Land Use and Housing Development was originally arranged alphabetically by last name. The first two names were subsequently lowered to the last two slots in subsequent articles which practice will continue throughout the series.

Sierra Club policy only allows endorsements of candidates up to the number of seats being contested – or two in the case of the current Davis City Council race. Given the obviously strong environmental credentials of most of the candidates, and in all fairness, we are unable to limit our support to only two candidates from this very qualified field in this election. Thus, the Sierra Club Yolano Group must take “No Position” in this race. That said, there are some notable differences between the candidates in general and on specific issues so we provide Davis voters and our members with the questions and the candidates’ responses for their consideration.


Issue – Recyclable or Compostable Take-out & In-Restaurant Food and Drink Containers

Question

Davis has adopted a Zero Waste Resolution striving to achieve zero waste by 2025. As part of this program, all food service industry tableware and drink containers must be reusable, recyclable or compostable including a ban on all Styrofoam containers. All waste must also be segregated by organics, recyclable, or landfill but virtually no fast food or restaurants are currently doing so.

What should the City do to enforce this Ordinance?

Answers

Eric Gudz –

Multiple types of internal and external enforcement is key to new policy becoming the standard in any community. One thought is to collect data from restaurants on estimated organic waste and recyclables they produce based on sales, sourcing, and production and making that information public record for the community. Once we have a better idea of what each restaurant should be producing as far as organic waste and recyclables, we can better utilize a variety of internal and external motivators to incentivize our local restaurants to get on board.

Furthermore, we can heavily incentivize new restaurants coming into downtown to adopt high standards as a way to create additional competition in the marketplace around these sustainability goals.

Larry Guenther –

1) Work with county health inspectors to require enforcement as part of routine health inspections.

2) Create community task force to work with food service businesses to make this program easy and inexpensive to comply with, similar to the county household hazardous waste program.

In my experience, compliance is much more universal if the program is easy and inexpensive on the part of the people required to comply with the program.

Gloria Partida –

There should be fees assessed for non-compliance.

Luis Rios –

The City of Davis can enforce the Zero Waste Resolution by implementing the following:

  • Establish a timeline to meet the requirements of the ordinance
  • Establish a penalty fee schedule for businesses not in compliance
  • Develop a campaign to educate the community on the ordinance
  • Promote a zero waste resolution guide for businesses and residents
  • Establish a Zero Waste Day in Davis to celebrate recycling and greener living

Mark West –

In order to answer the question, I would need to know why the City is not currently enforcing it. How the City enforces its ordinances are either specified in the ordinance, or are subject to the discretion of the City Manager. I see no value in speculating here without the necessary information.

Ezra Beeman –

My top priority is to position Davis as a world leader in sustainable planning, energy, transportation, water, and waste management including food waste. I’d support developing an outreach system to ensure everyone understood the rules, and then establish a ranking system, like for health, and posting performance in a similar way as a first step.

I think we could also look at redesigning waste collection pricing to create financial incentives to encourage zero waste practices. If people pay less for putting less garbage to the curb, they will reduce, reuse and recycle. Otherwise, they pay a higher fee. The premium can then be used as further incentive to follow these practices.

Mary Jo Bryan –

Each new recycling effort takes time to catch on. Before passing such an ordinance, I would want to know that we are ready for both community compliance and enforcement.  In the short term, I would put more effort into education and demonstration of the public benefit. We started organic recycling here in Rancho Yolo and I personally was able to reduce our solid waste by one-half and some residents achieved even more.

Daniel Carson –

The best way to implement these new rules in my view is to start by building acceptance by restaurant operators, and support for these changes from their customers, through education and transparency about which restaurants are in compliance. The city should establish a clear deadline for all food-service facilities to comply, and then take phased measures leading up to the deadline, such as providing those establishments that are in compliance with some sort of seal of approval informing their customers that they are in compliance with the rules (as public health agencies do in various jurisdictions to alert the public of the facility’s level of compliance with food-safety regulations). After these steps have been taken, citations should be issued for those establishments that are not in compliance.

Linda Deos –

Other than fines or similar punitive measures I don’t see a way to force these practices on private businesses.


Issue – Commercial & Multi-Family Recycling and Food Waste Collection

Question

The City of Davis waste management plan also now requires mandatory commercial and multi-family segregated recycling and segregated food scrap collection but the City has yet to roll-out these mandatory programs on a widespread basis.

Do you support these measures, why or why not, and how should the City go about rolling them out and enforcing them?

Answers

Eric Gudz –

I do support these measures Yes, and I think the council and staff can do more to vocalize their support and push additional educational opportunities out to our citizenry. Sending out targeted information at places where citizens frequent highly in town would be a great first step (too bad we don’t have a public posting/bulletin board in Central Park).

The city could also utilize a series of videos and infomercials to further educate the public (as social media and other media platform algorithms are attuned to this type of content). We could also check in with our property owners and send out targeted information to them about how they can help the city with promotion and send them clear guidelines on enforcement. This is a tough one to enforce for sure but utilizing a method similar to the one described above could work in this context as well.

Larry Guenther –

I support these measures, but enforcement at the individual level is difficult.  I believe a program must be easy to comply with or it will not be robustly effective.  An efficient way to sort all solid waste at a transfer station seems to me the most likely route to full compliance.  Some of the increased cost of this approach will be offset by improved ability to recycle and reduction of the mass required to go into the landfill.

Gloria Partida –

This a great endeavor. I think all restaurants should be required to participate in this program. Reducing landfill is important.

Luis Rios –

Yes. The City needs to be proactive and intentional on rolling-out mandatory programs city-wide. There is a sense of urgency to live in a greener and cleaner environment, working together to make the community better. The City Council needs to take the lead and mandate programs for segregated food collections and recycling. It is a matter of leadership and willingness on council members to move forward on this area. The City needs to offer recycling bins and aggressively educate the residents and business owners on the importance of sustainability initiatives. The following plan can be recommended:

  • Market a campaign on waste materials management
  • Identify business leaders to promote the plan
  • Issue mandatory guidelines with established timeline
  • Establish a fee schedule for compliance issues

Mark West –

Yes, I fully support segregated recycling and food scrap collection. Implementation of the policy is the responsibility of the City Manager and Staff.

Ezra Beeman –

I’m not sure the city has chosen the correct approach. I would like to see a cost/benefit analysis of the various methods for handling this issue. Europe and Japan follow a completely different approach and are showing much better results. An alternate approach may be more effective and receive better follow up from the city.

However, if the cost benefit assessment shows this is the best approach then I would hold city management accountable for implementing the Council’s directions. It will take 3 votes of the council, which I will strive to obtain.

In short I support a world leading waste policy, and I will ensure that City management deliver it, i.e. hold them accountable via an effective performance management system. I have experience in developing and implementing these as management consultant and former utility executive.

Mary Jo Bryan –

Yes,  I support this effort, but again I would encourage and support education and information regarding the public benefit for renters, as well as provide monetary incentives for owners and managers of multi-unit family and student dorms.

Daniel Carson –

These mandatory requirements present a particular challenge to commercial and multi-family residential facilities because compliance in many cases is dependent on the participation of many tenants. An approach I think is worth exploring is setting a date upon which a surcharge will be imposed on facilities that are not segregating recyclables and compostable materials. For those facilities that can demonstrate compliance by that date, the surcharge would be waived. Facility operators could, in turn, pass on the surcharges to tenants that are not participating as they should in the program. Tenants could avoid any rental surcharge if they complied with the city requirements. Of course, the imposing of any new city fees must be carefully examined with ample opportunity for feedback by the public and the operators of the facilities that would be affected.

Linda Deos –

Yes because doing so diverts waste from our land fill and because food scraps can be composted. Further roll out is going to require education as to the benefits to our community. Such education could begin in our schools with young children.


Issue – Water Conservation

Question

The City of Davis has a variety of water use restrictions (e.g. time-of-day and day-of-week irrigation, no street run-off, etc.- see http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/public-works/water/water-conservation/drought)  but does not have any mandatory % reduction or maximum use restrictions.

Given that we are possibly entering a new drought phase, what additional water conservation measures for the City and its businesses, and residents would you recommend as being most productive and cost-effective?

Answers

Eric Gudz –

I believe we need to take a harder look at our commercial, industrial, and agricultural water use if we are going to get serious about making through this upcoming drought and droughts into the future. While setting ambitious water restriction goals for our residential zoning would be ideal in our General Plan update, not enough attention is being paid to the amount of water used by those outside of a residential setting. A measure that would likely see results relatively quickly would be establishing tiers of water usage and fees that are associated with those tiers (ensuring that the burden of those tiered prices aren’t passed off to residential users and that commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses are properly considered and assessed).

Larry Guenther –

  • Move toward mandatory grey water systems in new residential and commercial construction.
  • Improve the City’s grey water program to make retrofitting existing buildings with grey water systems.
  • Increase scope of appropriate commissions to include outreach, education, and assistance on reconfiguring landscaping to low-water alternatives.

Gloria Partida –

There should be tiers for water use as there are for electricity. So that people are charged for using more and rewarded for using less.

Luis Rios –

Yes. The City needs to be more proactive and intentional on water conservation regardless of any drought phases. The City needs to explore drought-related practices like the following:

  • Reuse water as much as possible
  • Installing a composting toilet in public places, offices & commercial buildings as well as new apartment buildings
  • Ban the use of kitchen sink garbage disposers in apartment buildings to conserve water use
  • Consider artificial grass

Mark West –

Water conservation requirements are a Statewide decision. I would encourage voluntary reductions by all, but do not believe that new local mandates are productive or cost-effective. The recent increases in our cost of water is likely sufficient incentive for most to conserve.

Ezra Beeman –

The city should start with its own operations as a model of better behavior, and partner with other agencies (City, County, UCD, DJUSD) to change plantings, ground cover, and hardscape to lower water demands. The water rate program should include financial incentives to help ratepayers to switch to drought tolerant landscaping. Such a program can be financed through the water charges, the same way SMUD finances energy conservation retrofits. We can also look at progressive or inclining block pricing that rewards conservation.

Mary Jo Bryan –

For the typical Davis residence, outdoor water use for plant irrigation is three times the amount of indoor water use.  Given that, improvements in irrigation efficiency and reduction in irrigation demand will be the most effective water conservation measure.

I support encouraging the continuation of the drought measure for watering and other conservation efforts.  We have received a large amount of rain, and fortunately, snow during the month of March but we are also going see an increase of usage by the build out of the Cannery and other housing developments.  The student populations will be increasing also.  We need to continue our efforts to conserve.

Daniel Carson –

The city’s tiered water-rate structure provides a strong ongoing financial incentive for water conservation, and the city does a good job of informing homeowners of their water use in relation to comparable homes. Already scheduled increases in water rates (to pay for the new surface water system) will make the fiscal incentives for conservation of water even stronger for city water customers in the next few years. The ongoing mandatory water-use restrictions are mostly sound, common-sense measures to prevent waste and should remain in place regardless of whether we are experiencing wet or dry conditions.

In the event a drought emergency is declared in the future (as one inevitably will be) the city should strongly consider a mandatory percentage reduction for all users, but it should structured if possible in such a way as to not punish those who are currently making the most efficient use of water resources. A flat, across-the-board percentage reduction would not be fair and would in fact be a disincentive to conserve until a drought emergency is declared. Any proposed changes should be carefully reviewed by the city’s Utility Rate Advisory Commission and the Natural Resources Commission to verify their effectiveness and to ensure the financial stability of our water utility system.

Linda Deos –

I want to see more being done with water storage and the use of underground cisterns to collect water run-off. I also support retrofitting single-family homes for gray water systems. I would also like to see this expanded to new multifamily developments.


Issue – Fluoridation of Municipal Water

Question

The Yolo County Health Council has continued calls for mandatory system-wide fluoridation of our water supply as a dental decay preventative measure. The Davis City Council rejected this 5 years ago.

Do you support or oppose municipal water fluoridation in Davis and why or why not?

Answers

Eric Gudz –

As a practice that is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, and the World Health Organization, I would support this measure if it came up again in City Council. While there are some concerns over the types of fluoridating chemicals used for the water supply, I believe we can adequately address these concerns through regularly scheduled toxicology reporting and more transparency for the community so that we can rest easy on that front.

Larry Guenther –

I support fluoridation of the Davis Municipal water system.  I do not know of any health organization that opposes fluoridation of water.  I have seen no evidence of health risks to fluoridation of water.  It is inexpensive.  The argument that people should have a choice of drinking fluoridated water or not is, in my opinion, outweighed by the positive benefits to the entire community of fluoridated water.

Gloria Partida –

I reject this as this should be a choice people make on their own.

Luis Rios –

The City of Davis has the right to decide whether fluoridation in the water supply is acceptable or not. I support the people in making this decision. The demographics in Davis is different than the rest of the County. There are specific needs in other parts of the County, where fluoride in water can be helpful.

Mark West –

No. There is insufficient data to support the conclusion of a community health benefit from the mass fluoridation of the Davis population through the water system. I believe the City should be legally precluded from ever allowing the fluoridation of our water system.

Ezra Beeman –

The Davis community has voiced opposition to fluoridating the water supply. Whatever may be my personal preference, as a council member I would support the community.

Mary Jo Bryan –

The public health arguments for fluoridation of water are both consistent and strong.  However, fluoridation of our water system affects the entire population of Davis, and many citizens strongly oppose it.  So, if our community wants to make a decision about fluoridation, it should be through a vote of the people.  If that happens, then the city could sponsor “pro and con” debates and then have the voters decide.

Daniel Carson –

While the science is clear to me on the public health benefits of fluoridation, many Davis citizens opposed the addition of fluoride to our water supply at the time the surface water project was approved.  I don’t think this is the right time to revisit this issue.

Linda Deos –

Five years ago the city council made its decision based on the information presented to them at that time. Since then we have further information, including information from communities that have had fluoridated water for years, showing that fluoridated water is safe to consume and has proven health benefits. Both as a Davis resident and as a member of the Yolo County Health Council I support fluoridating our water.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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6 thoughts on “Sierra Club Yolano Group 2018 Council Candidates Part 4 – Waste Management and Water Management & Conservation”

    1. Matt Williams

      Craig and Don, to me Gloria’s answers are direct, crustal-clear, and refreshingly short on “I’m talking to hear myself talking” rhetoric. 

      I’ve copied the questions and her answers below.  In each case it is very hard to imagine Gloria licking her thumb and holding it up to the air to see which way the political wind is blowing.  her positions are clear … as are her reasons for those positions.  That is refreshing in an election where an abundance of flowery words is clearly evident in some candidates.

      —–

      Q1 – What should the City do to enforce this Ordinance?

      Gloria’s Answer – There should be fees assessed for non-compliance.

      —–

      Q2 – Do you support these measures, why or why not, and how should the City go about rolling them out and enforcing them?

      Gloria’s Answer – This a great endeavor. I think all restaurants should be required to participate in this program. Reducing landfill is important.

      —–

      Q3 – Given that we are possibly entering a new drought phase, what additional water conservation measures for the City and its businesses, and residents would you recommend as being most productive and cost-effective?

      Gloria’s Answer – There should be tiers for water use as there are for electricity. So that people are charged for using more and rewarded for using less.

      —–

      Q4 – Do you support or oppose municipal water fluoridation in Davis and why or why not?

      Gloria’s Answer – I reject this as this should be a choice people make on their own.

      1. Craig Ross

        It seems like she gave very brief answers, whereas everyone else provided more in the way of backing.

        Yesterday, one of her answers mentioned that individual showers lead to longer showers, just not impressed.

  1. Craig Ross

    From Ezra Beeman: “The Davis community has voiced opposition to fluoridating the water supply. Whatever may be my personal preference, as a council member I would support the community.”

    Is this actually true?  Was there a referendum?  A poll?  Or was it a few angry people coming to a council meeting?

    1. Matt Williams

      No referendum.  No formal poll.  I was on the City’s Water Advisory Committee (the WAC) and the County Health Council when this issue first formally became a decision item.  The first and second WAC hearings had Council Chambers filled to a standing room only level … about 90% anti-fluoridation is my personal estimate.  The activity at the Farmers Market table opposing fluoridation was brisk for well over a month.  The focus of the anti-fluoridation forces in their WAC testimony was on alternative treatment methods that would accomplish the same public health goal as water fluoridation.  So, same outcome, but a different means.  In their WAC testimony the pro-fluoridation forces provided no alternative method for addressing the health concerns that the anti-flurodation literature was illuminating vis-a-vis the “industrialization” of fluoridation (conversion to different fluoridation chemical compounds).

      My personal 30-year career in healthcare caused me to be pro-fluoridation at the beginning of the process.  However, the scientific evidence the pro-fluoridation side provided was 30-50 years old, and had not been updated in all that time … and the scientific evidence the anti-fluoridation side provided was all secondary meta-research, or primary research from questionable sources.  That meant neither side presented a compelling case.  For me, the tie-breaker was the principle of “do no harm.”

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