Since being elected supervisor in 2022, I have come across several hot-button issues and controversial projects or decisions. With a lot of these issues, the community is highly engaged and we hear a mix of opinions from the residents. This has not been the case for the John Smith Landfill expansion project. 

The landfill expansion project has proven to be one of the biggest issues in recent years. However, it has also been one of the most uniform in terms of public opinion. No other hot-button issue has driven as much community engagement while simultaneously presenting such unanimity from the residents. 

Over the last couple of years I have personally spoken to hundreds, if not thousands, of residents from across the county about the expansion project. The public has made their position loud and clear to me. They don’t like this project. 

Generally speaking, the vast majority of residents I have spoken to about this have been staunchly opposed to the out-of-county trash and expansion that is being proposed. And for good reason, as the proposed expansion would make the landfill 5 times its current size and 90% of the trash brought in would be from out of county. Not to mention out-of-county residents pay 50% less than what we all pay to use the landfill. 

This presents a myriad of different long term consequences for us. Although upfront it may look like revenue generation, it will ultimately be yet another short-term cash grab with lasting repercussions. The reason we are even in this situation is evidence enough of this. If the county never accepted out-of-county trash in the first place there would be no need for an expansion and this entire issue would have been avoided. 

Beyond the practical cons that would necessarily accompany the expansion like road damage, litter, environmental pollutants, etc., there is the broader question of whether or not this is something we want for San Benito County. In a couple months I am going to be a father, and naturally this has me thinking about the next generation that will be raised here in San Benito County. 

Is a giant mountain of trash built by Silicon Valley something we want to leave for that next generation? Is this the future we envision for our county? As far as I can tell, Mount Basura is not part of the vision of the residents. And it’s not part of my vision either. 

When almost the entirety of San Benito County is voicing a loud and clear opposition to something, we elected officials ought to listen. We have a duty to represent the residents and to be smart stewards of the county. In this case, there is no ambiguity as far as what that means. The residents have made their voice loud and clear. And they are right. 

Dom Zanger

San Benito County Supervisor

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  1. When supervisors and those interested with hearing the public views and making decisions, don’t listen to what the actual citizens want, of what purpose do they really serve? They are no longer serving the people but themselves.

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