Pressure Mounting on Tajiguas Landfill

Santa Barbara County is in a bind with the Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (TRRP). They discovered that the coastal zone map they had been using was the wrong one, and that the existing Tajiguas Landfill is actually already infringing on the coastal zone, and even worse, that the planned new anaerobic digester and sorting facility (to be housed in two large Costco-sized buildings) are partly sited in the zone and now the digester needs to be relocated, adding further expense to an already astronomically expensive project. They have an optimistic view of the situation on Edhat.

Marc_Chytilo_OpEd_in_Edhat_8-23-17.pngGaviota Coast Conservancy legal counsel Marc Chytilo submitted an OpEd on this Tajiguas issue, also to Edhat. "The Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (TRRP) involves $120M of trash processing machines housed in two Costco-sized buildings, one on top of the Tajiguas Landfill and the other on Baron Ranch. Interest on proposed County bonds totals at least $80M, for a total project cost of at least $200M. Residential trash rates are estimated to increase by 50% over the next decade to pay for the TRRP and the coastal zone blunder; some estimate the rate increases will be much higher. The Goleta City Council will hold a hearing on September 5 to hear from the public whether to raise trash rates by over 17%, in large part to pay for the TRRP. Most significantly, the TRRP will squander the potential to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon farming (a practice referenced in the Paris Climate Agreement that sequesters atmospheric carbon in the soil)."

"State law will effectively ban disposal of organic waste to landfills in a few years. This organic waste (kitchen and food scraps from grocery stores, schools, hotels and restaurants) is a highly valuable input for the creation of high-quality compost that can be used in “carbon farming” to sequester carbon into the soil and increase local agricultural productivity. The TRRP would instead process the organic waste in an anaerobic digester, extracting a trivial portion of the carbon as methane that would be burned to generate electricity and the carbon returned to the atmosphere."

"The TRRP’s 'digestate' cannot be made into high-quality compost and is unsuitable for use on food crops. Carbon farming yields years of carbon sequestration benefits, versus a one-time minor reduction in the type of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. In proposing the TRRP, the County rejected viable alternatives that would have less cost, fewer impacts, and move towards Zero Waste goals that many other local governments have adopted throughout the Country. We can do better!"

The Next hearing on the revised project will be on September 5 at the Goleta city Council, where rate increases of 17.76% are needed to fund the TRRPPlease attend the Hearing if you can, email and speak out for Gaviota Coast and against the expanded industrialization of this biodiversity hotspot.

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Speak Up for Gaviota


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View from Baron Ranch

Speak up for the Gaviota Coast!

Let's take this opportunity for another path for Tajiguas


 For the update on what's possible and what's at stake, please check our recent Op Ed in the Independent, in collaboration with Sigrid Wright of Community Environmental Council. Also, here's our GCC Letter to the Planning Commission, sharing what we see could be possible and why it's a good time to reconsider this astronomically-expensive project.


Here's the skinny: The Gaviota Coast is a nationally significant open space and natural area. The County Public Works Department (PWD) operates the 350-acre Tajiguas Landfill 26 miles west of Santa Barbara in what was once a coastal canyon on the Gaviota Coast, now filled with trash.
In 1999, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to close the Tajiguas Landfill by 2015, but instead, PWD proposed a trash processing facility to extend Tajiguas Landfill to 2036 or beyond. The trash processing facility will be constructed and operated by an investment group from San Luis Obispo, Mustang Investors, LLC. While the County originally required the facility to be privately financed, they later agreed to use municipal bond financing to borrow around $122 million to build the facility. This puts the County, and all ratepayers, on the hook if the facility fails. According to leading experts in the solid waste industry, the facility is poorly designed and may never operate as promised. Even if it does fail, approval of the project means that Tajiguas and the Gaviota Coast will continue to serve as a hub for all South Coast solid waste for 20 or more years.

Please Email, call or 

rsvp to attend the Goleta City Council hearing on September 5 at 6:00 PM (Butterfly Hearing) and 8:00 PM (Approx., for Rate Increase Hearing)

Write a supportive letter to the editor

and/or a supportive comment on the Independent Op Ed we submitted with Community Environmental Council sharing your concern for the future of the Gaviota Coast 


GCC has long opposed expansions of the landfill and opposed the Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (TRRP). Despite this opposition, the County approved the TRRP in 2016 but used the wrong coastal zone boundary line. Landfills are not allowed in the coastal zone, so the County is trying to revise and re-approve the project. The County is now proposing to expand the Tajiguas Landfill and site the TRRP’s anaerobic digester on the adjacent Baron Ranch and make a series of other changes to the project. 

GCC has recently been working on developing an alternative approach to South Coast solid waste management that has substantially better environmental benefits at considerably less cost while embracing a progressive, long-term vision for the South Coast’s waste streams. This vision cannot proceed if the TRRP is approved. 

The County is desperate to re-approve the TRRP, but to do so, must get approval for steeply increased trash rates.  Those rate increases will be considered on September 5 by the Goleta City Council.    The Rate setting hearing will follow a hearing on the fate of the Ellwood Butterfly grove, which GCC is involved in supporting the Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs. 

Thank you for your support for the Gaviota Coast


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Scenic Highway Designation Ceremony

Gaviota Coast Conservancy played a major role 
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Caltrans has officially designed the Gaviota Coast as a State Scenic Highway. Over the past year, Gaviota Coast Conservancy worked tirelessly with Caltrans, County staff and the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors to make this happen. As stated by the Director of Caltrans, "the scenic qualities of this well-deserved section of California's coast will be preserved, so that they may continue to be appreciated and enjoyed by all."
Gaviota Coast Conservancy, along with Supervisor Doreen Farr, have long pushed for this overdue designation. The new Scenic Highway will extend along a 21-mile stretch of Highway 101, from Goleta's western boundary to Highway 1 at Las Cruces, where it will connect with another scenic route on Highway 1 between Las Cruces and Lompoc. For more detail, here's an article on the Gaviota Coast Scenic Highway designation in the Lompoc Record. Check out Noozhawk and KEYT's coverage as well.
Your Gaviota Coast Conservancy board continues to work diligently to help preserve the Gaviota Coast. This is one more step in that pursuit. We are most proud and pleased to have taken a leading role in this project, and look forward to continuing our work in the coming year. Special thanks to board Vice President Steve Forsell for his dedicated efforts.
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