Cypress subcommittee rejects Valley Vista proposal

Mayor Jon Peat

Following the report of an ad-hoc subcommittee, the city of Cypress has decided to not to pursue a controversial proposal by Valley View Services, Inc., only to step right back into another controversy with the company.

While the city officially rejected the initial proposal, Mayor Jon Peat said Monday that a subcommittee recommended the company resubmit a new proposal.

In October of 2020, VVS proposed a joint venture with the City that would optimize VVS’s operations by making improvements to the Public Works Yard. VVS’s proposal included a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, a direct tip transfer (DTT) station, and a franchise extension. VVS proposes to pay for the improvements (estimated to cost $2 million) and pay the City $110,000 annually in lease and host fees.

The direct transfer tip would have allowed garbage collection trucks to consolidate their loads and offload them to larger trucks at the city’s yard, vastly cutting down on the number of trucks making the trip to the landfill 50 miles away.
Should the project have moved forward, some estimates say more than 150 tons of garbage per day would have been transferred at the direct transfer facility.

On October 26, the City Council appointed Peat and Council Member Paulo Morales to an ad-hoc subcommittee to analyze VVS’s proposal and report findings to the City Council by January 11, 2021.

Valley Vista’s original “proposal” proposed extending the franchise from June 30, 2027 to 15 years from the date a compressed natural gas (CNG) station and DTT become operational. For example, if VVS’s proposed CNG station and DTT came on-line on January 1, 2021, the franchise would expire December 31, 2036, according to the subcommittee report.

Back in 2014, the city council awarded Valley Vista Services (VVS) a 10-year exclusive solid waste franchise after a competitive selection process. VVS began operations in July 2015. In 2017, the City Council approved amendments to the franchise to ensure its viability and extended it by two years to 2027.

Based on the subcommittee’s review of CNG stations, a CNG station at the city’s public works yard would not pose environmental or safety hazards. CNG is one of the safest vehicle fuels available and most residents use natural gas to cook with and to heat their homes because it is safe, reliable, increasingly green, and affordable, the report said. The main difference between residential use and a fast-fill CNG station is compression, it noted.
Regarding the Direct Transfer Tip, the subcommittee report said “while a DTT would provide VVS savings that could be shared with residents, the subcommittee does not believe it is a suitable operation at the yard.”

According to the subcommittee report, while the city chose not to move forward with the direct transfer tip facility, the subcommittee instead recommended that the Council create a new ad hoc subcommittee to submit “a new joint venture proposal and/or extraordinary rate increase requests and recommend options to the City Council, including the potential for a compressed natural gas fueling station at the City’s Public Works Yard. The subcommittee shall not consider a direct tip transfer station.”

When the council discussed the proposal on Monday, some citizens said they do not support the alternative suggestion, and in fact, questioned why the city was so concerned about the financial health of a waste company (see related story).