County Creeping Tajiguas onto Baron Ranch



The County is trying to approve another expansion of the Tajiguas Landfill onto Baron Ranch on the Gaviota Coast. Gaviota Coast Conservancy has vowed to oppose this project to protect the Gaviota Coast from 20 more years (!) of industrial activity at the Tajiguas Landfill. The $110M Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (or TRRP) includes a “dirty materials recovery facility” (or dirty MRF) to separate recyclables from trash and an anaerobic digester facility (ADF) to process organic wastes and extract methane that is burned to generate electricity.

Earlier this year, China banned the acceptance of contaminated recycled materials, closing the only market for the recovered recyclable materials from the dirty MRF, and rendering one $50M part of the project useless.

Far better is to enhance our source separation programs so more recyclables go into the blue bins, where they stay clean and are actually recycled. We don’t need the dirty MRF.

Carbon farming has emerged as a way to put carbon back into the soil, using high-quality compost. We don’t need the $60M anaerobic digester; we need more composting, which coincidentally can be done at a fraction of the cost. We can use education and programs to keep food scraps clean and put them in with the green yard waste bins, allowing this valuable resource to be used to make compost.

The TRRP is so expensive it has contributed to rate increases over 17% this year in Goleta and unincorporated Santa Barbara County, with comparable annual increases projected for at least the next 2-3 years, and probably longer. Rates will rise higher once the additional costs of the County’s coastal zone blunder are known. The $110M price tag is expected to rise to approximately $150M, triggering another steep rate increase for South Coast residents. The Tajiguas Landfill is nearly full, and it is time to find a better solution. The alternative begins at home with enhanced source separation, which can achieve better results at less expense than the TRRP.

In late October, a group of five solid waste experts active in the State sent a letter to the Santa Barbara City Council with their collective opinion that the TRRP was not appropriate and urging the participating jurisdictions to consider and develop alternatives.

View their letter here.

After this year’s spring rains, a population of Threatened California red-legged frogs was re-discovered at the Tajiguas Landfill. The TRRP introduces night lighting to the site for the first time (frogs are attracted to the light) and the TRRP revisions expand the areas of nighttime vehicle operations, including over the frogs’ dispersal corridors. The TRRP revisions expand the landfill operations onto Baron Ranch and into federally designated Critical Habitat for the red-legged frog. As proposed, the revised TRRP will lead to the unnecessary death of red-legged frogs on the Gaviota Coast.

GCC opposes the TRRP as an unnecessary expansion of the Tajiguas Landfill onto Baron Ranch and extension of its life by another 20 years after the Supervisors pledged to close it by 2015. The myriad environmental impacts and zoning issues simply underscore the conclusion that the Tajiguas Landfill does not belong on the Gaviota Coast.

Stay tuned for more information!