Mailbag: Time for a change at Sanitary District

After hearing "stories" about what was happening at the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, I decided to do some research.

I carefully reviewed two years of directors' minutes, two years of financial information and some existing contracts. I confirmed my findings with the general manager and a current director for the district. As former KPMG "Big 4" certified public accountant (CPA) and chief financial officer (CFO), I understand contracts and financials. What I found motivated me to get involved.

Here are some issues you should consider when voting Nov. 6:

•Why do we pay more than Newport Coast for the same trash company? Newport Beach bid their contract in 2008, and we pay 64% more than their cost. We have not bid our trash contract since World War II.

•What is the value of our recyclables? Comparable cities receive money back for this in excess of $1 million. Costa Mesa gets zero.

•Why has the board over-collected $5.5 million of ratepayer money in the past five years? It is effectively a tax on our residents when more is charge than the service costs.

•Why is there a six-year termination clause in the trash contract? Even if we give notice now we have to wait six years to make a change.

•The Costa Mesa Sanitary District is a five-member board that oversees the activities of 13 employees and one trash contract. The directors earn more than our City Council members. Could this board be eliminated or consolidated? I believe it is time to give it some thoughtful consideration and save Costa Mesa some money.

The incumbent directors have served for 20 years. It is time for a change.

Don Harper

Costa Mesa

The writer is a candidate for the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.


One of the safest bike lanes I have ever seen in a big city was in Paris on the road heading to the Louvre, where the bike path is separated from road traffic by an elevated island. Since this is likely an impossible dream in America, I just wonder whether some of those white plastic sticks used to divert traffic during road construction can be installed to mark the boundary of the bike path.

If we can space them about 30 feet apart, it may well help both the motorists and the bikers to keep their vehicles in their own space. As it stands now, riding a bike in the public streets of Orange County is likely more dangerous than sky diving into Afghanistan.

John T Chiu

Newport Beach

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