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Land use fees will increase to accommodate state law requiring organic material to be recycled

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Land use fees will increase to accommodate state law requiring organic material to be recycled.

Kern County homeowners could soon see a big increase in their land use fee.

To comply with a new state law aimed at reducing greenhouse gases from landfills, Kern County Public Works is proposing to increase the land use fee by about 71 percent. On parcels with up to four residential units, that equates to an increase from the current rate of $ 105 to $ 180 per year. Parcels with five or more residential units could see an increase from $ 84 to $ 144.

The county recently sent brochures to more than 240,000 packages to inform owners of the proposal. It’s just the second rate hike in the past nine years, and the county says it’s necessary to convert multiple waste processing centers in Kern into facilities that can recycle organic material.

With the passage of Senate Bill 1383 in November of last year, the state approved a plan to reduce organic waste in landfills by 75 percent by 2025 compared to 2014. In addition, the bill The law seeks to divert edible foods that are normally thrown away from human consumption.

But the costs incurred for this change are monumental, hence the need to increase rates.

“I know this is not a good time, with the economy the way it is and people feel so insecure, but I would say this legislation does not allow us to postpone it,” said Lynn Brooks, deputy director of Public Services for Kern County. Plays. “We must move on, otherwise we will not comply … (the state) could shut us down and then it would be extremely expensive to ship these things out of this county.”

To meet the state’s goals, the county plans to build a new $ 20 million compost facility at the Shafter-Wasco landfill. An investment of $ 10 million is also expected to be made in the Bena and Shafter-Wasco self-transport facilities, and a new transfer station could be built at the Tehachapi landfill.

Millions of dollars must be spent each year to separate organic waste from garbage and other recyclable materials. The county expects to spend an additional $ 30 million on technology to process the material.

“SB 1383 has been talked about for the past five years. He’s wildly unpopular with some people and wildly popular with other people, ”Brooks said. “We have to do something and honestly, this is just the cost. The state has said it would likely double or triple rates to do this. ”

Public Works estimates that 40 percent of the material currently disposed of in local landfills is organic waste, which is a term that describes everything that comes from a plant or animal and is biodegradable. The state estimates the figure to be 56 percent throughout California.

According to CalRecycle, 20 percent of all the state’s methane comes from organic material that rots in landfills. The state agency described methane as a climate super pollutant that is 84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over 20 years.

“Food, garden, and other organic waste rotting in landfills is one of the top sources of climate super pollutants in the state,” Lance Klug, a CalRecycle public information officer, wrote in an email. “Implementing SB 1383 is one of the quickest and easiest ways Californians can fight climate change, feed Californians in need, conserve our precious water that is used to grow food, and move the state toward a a future with less pollution and more green jobs. ”

Kern County has scheduled a public hearing for 2 pm on January 4 at the Kern County Administrative Center located at 1115 Truxtun Ave. to receive comments on the land use fee increase.

The law is already being felt in all industries that handle garbage. A group of locally owned garbage haulers recently agreed to sell their businesses to Fontana-based Burrtec, which they believe is better equipped to handle the changes required by SB 1383.

“There are more than 100 pages of regulations that jurisdictions, carriers, and facilities must comply with, and everything about how solid waste is collected is changing,” said Jacob Panero, CEO of Varner Bros. Inc., one of the companies involved in the sale. . “It’s going to require the vast majority of previously disposed of food waste and organic waste to be recycled.”

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