Dear Editor Letter: Garbage Wars

Dear Editor,

You know that strong pungent rotten-egg odor — yeah! I am talking about the one you may have smelled if you lived around a landfill or traveled near one.

Recent citizen movements on San Jose landfills, specifically Newby and Guadalupe, have finally driven it home to San Jose city’s attention. Garbage war and related “odor” problem have been simmering in the underbelly for decades and begs to look at this problem from a citizen perspective.

I smelled that odor for the first time in the Bay Area when I settled in North San Jose right next to the expansive Cisco campus almost 16 years ago. A few SJ governments came and went and after 11 years of cribbing I moved as well. The problem has grown worse over the years and if you are around Zanker, you can smell it umpteen even today.

Recently, another set of SJ residents just started mobilizing and objecting to new garbage contracts at Guadalupe landfill in the heart of San Jose. North San Jose and Milpitas residents have been trying to bring Newby landfill and the odor problem to San Jose’s attention for years, but most of it has fallen to deaf years.

It would be interesting to see how SJ city officials differentiate their stand on “odor” to Americans living in the heart of the city, at the city outskirts and outside of its city limit.

We are all in the same state and nation then why is this differentiation on the quality of air we breathe?

Is a big city like San Jose defining stakeholders so narrowly just to represent core vote bank and high rollers, and hardly hesitate to deplete quality of life for others who don’t count in this skewed political algebra. Are we defining city priorities over people of our state and country?

The whole nation is watching how cities divide territories, who they will consider a citizen and how divided city-nations are growing within the great nation.

The reason I broach this subject — waste management handled inadequately has the potential of becoming even more contentious a subject than nuclear armament or sharing of water. With a caveat though, it could potentially involve two nations eventually, but more likely it will be between neighboring cities and between citizens of the same nation. Law of severe citizen self-interest and shortsighted city policy making are the causes for this war, and special interests (lawyers and consultants) are benefiting from the social divide.

Interestingly, odor producing facilities in our discussion are all within San Jose’s jurisdiction and San Jose’s action to mitigate the odor, at least in terms of any visible intervention, is missing.

One great lesson from great wars of history, and especially from the ones where motivated special-interest divided citizens to saddle them with below par alternatives as a result, “United we stand and Divided we fall.” This lesson should unify citizens across city lines. In a democratic nation every citizen should have the equal right to breathe odor free air, irrespective of which city they live in. Can we all unite behind that?

Source is Milpitas Post:

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