“Cheap landfilling is the enemy of recycling.”— David Tam, SPRAWLDEF Co-Founder
Recycling conserves resources and energy, prevents undeveloped land from being filled with garbage, and thereby makes our economy and our environment more sustainable.
The most extensive recycling-related campaign undertaken by SPRAWLDEF was the multi-year effort to stop the unnecessary expansion of the Potrero Hills landfill, which actually operates inside the boundaries of the Suisun Marsh in Solano County, the largest wetland in the entire state of California. After winning two major court victories proving a fatal flaw in the initial project Environmental Impact Report, and re-instating results of a citizen initiative limiting the importation of garbage from outside of Solano County, SPRAWLDEF’s campaign to save Suisun Marsh was stopped cold by “designer legislation”. Authored by then Assemblymember Fiona Ma, who is now the Treasurer of the State of California, this last minute bill expressly precluded our efforts to limit this landfill expansion after several years of effort, and effectively banned future efforts by other citizen groups to exercise local control over landfills in their jurisdiction.
Preceding the action against expansion of Potrero Hills landfill was another important lawsuit, Tam vs. City of Fremont. In this suit, SPRAWLDEF co-founder and long-time recycling activist David Tam sued the City of Fremont over deficiencies in its Environmental Impact Report for a new waste processing transfer station and a contract that would have exported its garbage out of Alameda County. Exporting garbage like this would have resulted in millions of dollars of lost revenue for recycling and open space programs in Alameda County, a significant impact that was not accounted for in the Environmental Impact Report for the project. Tam’s attorney in this matter was the other SPRAWLDEF co-founder, Norman LaForce. Settlement funds from this victory yielded the initial funding that launched SPRAWLDEF in earnest in late 2004, and helped to support the organization’s broader work.