Over 50 people showed up to discuss 50 acres of land.

Many of these individuals were familiar with a different tract of land on the BKK Landfill, 122 acres of land that Brian Jobst referred to as “buffer land” or land outside the landfill boundaries in his presentations.

That land, which is for sale by the city, was not addressed until the end of the meeting.

This meeting, and the following community meeting on Jan. 30, focuses on the top deck of the Class III landfill.

This is the top deck of the BKK class III landfill.
This is the top deck of the BKK class III landfill.

Residents had several questions about why this meeting was about the top deck and not the land for sale before the meeting began.

City manager, Chris Freeland, made sure to distinguish this city sponsored presentation from Jobst’s prior presentations and to address some of these concerns.

The workshop was focused on the top deck to start small, according to the city manager.

Freeland said that this area would be used as a negotiating tool. He added that if a developer wants to build on the city’s land for sale, this land would serve as what the city wants out of the deal.

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu said the workshop was not related to Singpoli, and Freeland would later clarify that the Singpoli representatives in attendance were, like council, only there to observe.

Council member Dario Castellanos said that he was looking forward to putting something together that everyone likes, and said he would be listening for what’s viable and sustainable.

Several ideas were put forward at the meeting, regardless of the confusion at the start. Chris Miller proposed a water tank and solar combination that would function like Edison’s Pumped Hydroelectric Storage.

Miller proposed using the water tank as a storage battery for use at night, and suggested the city would sell off excess energy back to the grid to make money while sustaining electricity for the city.

These ideas followed polling using smartphones.

For each poll question, participants who had texted “WestCovina” without a space to 22333 would text the letter of their response and it would be counted.

The system had its bugs and several residents added a space or otherwise struggled with it.

There were over fifteen questions.

1. Are you a West Covina resident?

  • Yes - 94 percent
  • No - 6 percent

2. How many years have you lived in West Covina?

  • 0-1 - 8 percent
  • 2-4 - 0 percent
  • 5-10 - 8 percent
  • 11-20 - 23 percent
  • 20+ - 62 percent

3. How close do you live to the former BKK landfill site?

  • 0-0.25 miles - 18 percent
  • 0.25-0.30 miles - 18 percent
  • 0.30-0.50 miles -  0 percent
  • 0.50-0.75 miles - 6 percent
  • 0.75-1 miles - 29 percent
  • 1-1.5 miles - 6 percent
  • 1.5-2 miles - 12 percent
  • 2+ miles - 12 percent

4. Would you support development on the site?

  • Yes - 82 percent
  • No - 18 percent

5. What is more important for you as a community member: for the site to generate revenues or provide public amenities?

  • Generate revenues - 15 percent
  • Provide public amenities - 55 percent
  • A combination (self-sustaining development) - 30 percent

5a. If generate revenues, why?

  • Pay for additional public safety officers - 10 percent
  • Provide more events/programming for the community - 35 percent
  • Repair/maintain city infrastructure - 25 percent
  • Help with the current budget issue - 30 percent

5b. If public amenities, why?

  • Recreational activities - 38 percent
  • Open space/nature preserve - 38 percent
  • Gathering location for the community - 25 percent

6. Would you be amenable to private development on a portion of the site meant possible revenues sources to provide desired public amenities?

  • Yes - 74 percent
  • No - 26 percent

The seventh question’s options were provided by the community. Paulina Morales said that even if an option did not receive a lot of votes that all responses are noted.

7. What are your biggest concerns regarding a private development at the BKK site?

  • Private developer bankruptcy/possibility of failure - 8 percent
  • Public health - 37 percent
  • Traffic congestion - 32 percent
  • Protection of wildlife - 5 percent
  • Project timeline - construction - 5 percent
  • Financial gain for the community - 3 percent
  • Safety - 5 percent
  • Concern of hotel development - 0 percent
  • Developer cherry-picking location - 0 percent
  • Open space should not require company to operate - 0 percent
  • Chase bank representative to provide input - 0 percent
  • Infrastructure cost - 3 percent
  • Developer selection - 3 percent

8. What do you think are the benefits of private investment/development in the community?

  • Increased property values - 9 percent
  • Removal of vacant and/or blighted area - 26 percent
  • Increased amenities to the community - 26 percent
  • I do not believe there are benefits - 35 percent
  • Other (if other, please fill out a blank sheet and pass it to staff) - 4 percent

9. What type of public amenities would you be interested in seeing on the top deck?

  • Entertainment (amphitheater/stage) - 15 percent
  • Sports (soccer, baseball, football, skate park, etc) - 12 percent
  • Hiking trails/nature preserve - 36 percent
  • Park (playground, picnic area, etc) - 6 percent
  • Community farm/garden - 9 percent
  • Fitness Center - 0 percent
  • Other (if other, please fill out a blank sheet and pass it out to staff) - 21 percent

10. How do you propose the city pay for the construction and operations of a new public amenity?

  • General fund dollars - 9 percent
  • Taxing district (similar to a community financial district/enhanced infrastructure financial district) - 9 percent
  • Public/private partnerships (Big League Dreams) - 32 percent
  • Private - 50 percent

11. What do you think is the greatest obstacle to developing the top deck site?

  • Development limitations - 26 percent
  • Regulatory agency approval (EPA, DTC) - 23 percent
  • Environmental concerns - 31 percent
  • Public financing - 18 percent
  • Other (if other, please fill out a blank sheet and pass it out to staff) - 3 percent

12. What is the greatest asset/benefit of the top deck site?

  • Development potential - 14 percent
  • Open space - 41 percent
  • Elevation (views) - 41 percent
  • Location - 5 percent
  • Other (if other, please fill out a blank sheet and pass it out to staff) - 0 percent

The poll then skipped 13 and asked the community to provide suggestions for desired amenities.

14. What are your most desired amenities for the top deck?

  • Water tower storage - 5 percent
  • Art center - 3 percent
  • Open preserve/open space - 30 percent
  • Power Generation/solar farm/solar panels - 30 percent
  • Football/soccer field - 0 percent
  • Maze - 0 percent
  • Wildflower meadow - 0 percent
  • Theme Park - 3 percent
  • Horticultural museum - 0 percent
  • Community garden - 3 percent
  • Walking/hiking trail - 8 percent
  • Picnic area/shelter park (provide shade) - 0 percent
  • Entertainment - 5 percent
  • Observation Deck - 8 percent
  • Shelter park (provide shade) - 0 percent
  • Dog park - 3 percent
  • Track/field - 3 percent

And a final question was asked regarding how much development was approved by the community for the entire site.

  • 100 percent development - 25 percent
  • 50/50 percent development - 65 percent
  • 0 percent development - 10 percent

Each option was labeled at the workshop in alphabetical order starting with A as the first bullet point in each poll, but no numbers of total votes for each section have been officially released at this time.

Paulina Morales leads the first table group session at the BKK community meeting. Photo by Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.
Paulina Morales leads the first table group session at the BKK community meeting. Photo by Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Wu said that the workshop was a good thing and that what comes of it would hopefully make a majority of people happy since it cannot make everyone happy.

The workshop itself left much to be desired with some residents who are very familiar with the landfill.

Heidi Jobst described the meeting as awkward, and said the focus on the top deck gave a feeling of a larger plan and that discussion of the top deck is out of context from the main picture of the land being sold.

Either way, the next city sponsored community meeting on the BKK site is on Jan. 30 at Cortez Park from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.