Measure E Background

In 2007, with Palo Alto's landfill nearing the end of its life, community members were concerned that closure of the dump would end local yard waste composting, and our green waste would be trucked down to Gilroy. Because the landfill was dedicated as parkland upon closure, any portion of the site could only be used for an alternative purpose, such as composting, upon approval from the voters.

The issue of what to do about local composting was sent to the City's Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) and the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC). The PRC recommended trucking green waste off site. The PTC recommended that Council establish a blue ribbon task force to look at all three organic waste streams - yard trimmings, food waste and sewage sludge.

Council accepted the PTC recommendation, and established a 9-member community task force. After much research and deliberation, the task force recommended the City explore anaerobic digestion to convert all three organic waste streams into green energy and compost.

Council then commissioned a study that found anaerobic digestion to be both feasible and cost competitive.

To make land available for a waste-to-energy conversion facility, Palo Altans for Green Energy collected more than 6,000 signatures from registered Palo Alto voters to put Measure E on the 2011 ballot. Measure E stated:

The Property shall be removed from dedication as parkland, for the exclusive purpose of building a facility for converting yard trimmings, food waste, other municipal organics and/or sewage sludge from the regional wastewater treatment plant by biological and/or other environmentally equally protective technology.

Measure E was approved by 65% of the voters.

In 2014, Council ruled out anaerobic digestion due to cost. Since then, there has been no further exploration of environmentally-friendly waste conversion technologies.

Measure E also stipulated:

Ten years from the passage of this Initiative, the City Council may rededicate any portion of the Property not utilized for the purposes of this Initiative to parkland.

Now, more than 10 years after Measure E was approved by nearly two-thirds of the voters, Measure E opponents are pressing Council to rededicate the site back to "parkland." One of the No on E leaders sits on the Parks and Recreation Commission where she participated in the ad hoc committee that explored rededication of the site. She made the motion to recommend rededication to Council.

On April 3, Council will take up the Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation.

For more history on the landfill site, click here.