Aug 142020

Ahem – for those of you in to acronyms, it is called the WPWMA. Western Placer Waste Management Agency.

It is a dumpster fire.

Let’s get in to the dump for a bit as it is a microcosm of government in general.

20 years ago was the last time the WPWMA went out to bid. At that time, they hired NORTEC waste to manage the Athens Ave Dump.

In the 20 years the facilities have been operated by Nortech, they have made no substantial investments in modernization or innovation. Put bluntly, the operation is outdated. After over 20 years of having one contractor running the waste and landfill operations (two separate contracts) it appears that even in the in the face of serious reservations on the part of Mayor Allard and Councilmember Bill Halldin, there seems to be a concerted effort to award a sole-source, no bid contact to the same provider.

Based on comments at WPWMA board meetings, it appears that this effort to keep a sole source contract is being fueled by secret negotiations with the current operator, Nortech.

Why would the staff of the WPWMA be negotiating in secret with someone who would likely respond to a public bidding process? Doesn’t that give them an unfair advantage?

Here is the rub – it appears as if four out of the five board members want to put the project out to bid, but there’s still a concerted effort by others to prevent that. A Bid is called an RFP in government bureaucrat terms. (Request for Proposal)

At the same time, at previous meetings some board members and staff talked about the “great work” Nortech has been doing and seemed to allude to promises of big things to come if they are granted a no-bid multi-decade extensionHow often do promises made by government ever come true? Why are the staffers working so hard behind the scenes?

Bill Halldin and John Allard both rightly pointed out that the proper place for these types of proposals is through a public bidding process. Not only should Nortech be able to demonstrate what they can do, but so should all the other companies that do this work throughout the state.

Now, if the staffers get their way, what incentive is there for Nortech to sharpen their pencils and provide the best pricing if there is no competition?

This is key, the city of Roseville has taken a very strong position that this contract “must” go out to bid. Roseville is the largest single customer, sending 49% of the material to the operation. Shouldn’t they listen to their largest, most important customer? (I am still not sure why Roseville does not get 49% of the vote on that board)

As a follow up, we will be looking in to that “great service,” I’ve heard the current operator hasn’t been meeting their diversion targets – and they may have even received some violation notices. This is something I will be digging into perhaps with Public Records Requests and reviews of minutes and staff reports. (Diversion targets are state mandates to reclaim certain percentages of waste in various categories)

Yes folks, we’ve been writing about virtual dumpster fires in politics for years – now we may actually have one! (IN Placer County!)

Aug 082016

This was printed in the Sierra Sun – the local progressive rag in the Tahoe-Truckee Area. It kind of says it all.

Recently I read the Sierra Sun opinion column, “Lake Tahoe is in need of progressive change — and soon,” dated May 30 about the need for progressive change in our region.

I could not agree more. Many of the issues mentioned by Heidi Hill Drum (of the Tahoe Prosperity Center) and Darcie Goodman Collins (of the League to Save Lake Tahoe) apply to the Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment project.

These two community leaders said: “Redevelopment — the effort to rebuild and renovate in the already-developed urban centers of each of Tahoe’s communities — can foster the conditions for businesses that provide year-round jobs at better wages and better housing in more attractive neighborhoods.”

I support well-designed and thought out redevelopment. I believe the Village at Squaw Valley project is a plan we as a community should support.

Over 90 percent of the Village is in-fill redevelopment on existing asphalt parking lots. That asphalt is the first “filter” for water going into the Squaw Valley aquifer — certainly we can do better than that.

The Village plan includes installation of best management practices that will begin to treat stormwater from the minute it hits the roofs. New wells in Squaw Valley will ensure reliable water supplies, the rehabilitation of Squaw Creek is a great idea, and the park and bike trails are needed amenities we’ll all enjoy.

While we might not agree on how many lodging units is the correct number, we should support new, updated, energy-efficient lodging that will attract visitors — those same visitors many of us are dependent upon for our livelihood.

I think most of us would agree that the significant investment in transit and transportation improvements promised with the new Village works toward a new way to experience our region. Not any one redevelopment will solve our transit woes, but each and every improvement will help.

I’ve watched the changes in the plan over the years it’s been in the process, and I think we’re now at a place that’s just about right for our region.

I urge the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to approve the Village at Squaw Valley and move it forward. It’s time to accelerate environmental redevelopment and understand the status quo is threatening the viability of our future.

Alex Mourelatos is a Tahoe Vista resident and partner at Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort, and someone who considers himself a champion for responsible redevelopment in our region.

Recently, the Placer County Planning Commission was intimidated in to declining another project that was far more broad than just a redevelopment of an existing area. There may be more to the story about the opposition to that project – but the extreme nature of the opposition to anything that will bring economic development is clinical.

Don’t forget – they tried to incorporate a city to stop this, then threatened lawsuits – and now they are emptying the hippee commune in Nevada County and bringing more of Fred Ilfeld’s friends down from Nevada in an attempt to bully Placer County Government in to declining a project that has already been vetted environmentally and planning wise.

Ever wonder why companies don’t build in California? IF you can make it up the hill on Thursday to help support good people with a good project – please leave a comment. It won’t display publicly and I will get back to you.

(10AM Thur, the Planning Commission meets in Tahoe City)