Veto Bolsters the Morale of San Marcos Trash Foes

Times Staff Writer

It may be too little too late, but opponents of a proposed trash-to-energy plant in San Marcos got a morale boost Monday as Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed a bill that could have made it easier to get approval for the controversial facility.

The governor’s veto may have little effect, because a series of adverse court rulings have substantially reduced opponents’ chances of blocking the proposed $120-million facility.

Saying it was an “unnecessary infringement upon the will of the people,” Deukmejian announced Monday he had refused to sign a bill by Assemblyman Johan Klehs (D-San Leandro) that would have prohibited requiring two-thirds voter approval for establishing a trash-burning power plant.

Through a successful petition drive, a group called the Citizens for Healthy Air in San Marcos had placed an initiative on ballots April 30 that would have required two-thirds voter approval for the proposed trash-to-energy plant in San Marcos.

But a Superior Court order stopped the election from being held. And last week the 4th District Court of Appeal upheld the lower court ruling that the election would have been unconstitutional.


Klehs’ bill had been intended to affect that election but was stalled in March after opposition surfaced.

Klehs, chairman of the Assembly Elections Committee, said at the time he considered it important to establish in law that citizens could not impose the tough approval standard, even if the San Marcos election had gone ahead.

Klehs was out of the country Monday and unavailable for comment after the Deukmejian veto, his office said. Spokesmen for the San Marcos citizens’ group were also unavailable.

Deukmejian, in his message to the Assembly, said, “I am concerned that this is an unnecessary infringement upon the will of the people and local control.”

In a court case unrelated to the election, a judge ruled last week that the environmental impact report for the plant was valid. Opponents had contended it was flawed.