Tyler Silvy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
When Greg Eicher and his wife, Gulten Eicher, moved to a quiet stretch of Walker Avenue five years ago, they were ready to embrace a more rural lifestyle there in southwestern Santa Rosa.
They’ve got a heap of homegrown fruits and veggies on offer, raise chickens for fresh eggs and even recently began beekeeping. There’s also a farm cat — Tekir, which is Turkish for striped or tabby cat.
Greg Eicher said they knew they were moving in a few blocks from Santa Rosa’s Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant, which handles wastewater for 230,000 residents from Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sebastopol and portions of unincorporated Sonoma County.
The Eichers occasionally get whiffs of what is treated at the plant. But Eicher said one waste-related facility is enough, and neighbors can’t abide a push by local governments to relocate a commercial-grade composting facility across the street from the Laguna site.
“This neighborhood has been putting up with the noise and the smell and the traffic — to the benefit of the entire city of Santa Rosa — for years,” Eicher said. “You’re doubling down on me.”
There’s no organized opposition yet, but thanks to leadership changes and the fits and starts of governmental negotiations for green-bin waste, neighbors have months, if not years, to coalesce and build their campaign against the proposal.
Until then, and perhaps for many more years, the future of green waste handling in Sonoma County will remain in limbo — with both tons of material and millions of ratepayer dollars continuing to go out of the county.
It’s been more than a year since the board of Zero Waste Sonoma — the renamed Sonoma County Waste Management Agency — voted to begin negotiations with Renewable Sonoma, a private company, to handle commercial-grade composting operations, a service not offered in Sonoma County since that company’s previous site was shut down four years ago in the wake of wastewater violations.