San Martin Residents Think Porta Potty Plan Stinks

On the corner of Sycamore Avenue and East San Martin Avenue in San Martin, an empty, grassy parcel of land has generated some controversy in the small, unincorporated locality, between Gilroy and Morgan Hill. Middleton Consulting out of Tacoma Washington is in the application process to construct a storage facility for portable toilets on the land and some San Martin residents nearby think the idea stinks.
Many of San Martin’s residents have become resentful, thinking that their town has become a dumping ground for the counties more undesirable developments. The resentment, in part, has led several residents to start a Facebook group called “San Martin Our Town.” The profile of the Facebook group states that their purpose is to stay informed on current and events and to know what Santa Clara County plans to dump on them.
Member Brian Corral, 33, who works in construction and lives with his family less than a mile from the corner of the East San Martin and Sycamore Ave site, is opposed to the construction.
“My biggest problem with it is that it’s going to increase traffic,” Corral said. “I drive a water truck for construction sites and in the morning getting out off Sycamore Ave and onto the highway is a nightmare. With trucks coming in and out of there all day it’s going to ruin traffic. We tried to get a stop sign there but the county said it would cause too much of a traffic buildup from the highway.”
Corral is also concerned about the danger of chemicals leaking from the site that might enter nearby Little Llagas Creek, which runs behind the potential construction site.
“During the heavy rainy season, if the creek rises and there’s runoff into the creek, the chemicals may leak into the water and leach into our groundwater,” Corral said.
The concern over contaminated groundwater was exacerbated when sewage runoff from Morgan Hill entered Little Llagas Creek during the winter when sewage lines exceeded their capacity and dumped more than 250,000 gallons of sewage during the heavy rains, possibly contaminating wells.
Jeff Bernardini,57, rents a home next to the potential construction site and across the street from the large Peterson CAT facility on Sycamore Ave. To Bernardini, the project would disturb the rural atmosphere of San Martin.
“I don’t see how it’s going to be an improvement to San Martin,” Bernardini said. “You come off of 101 and head east and what will you see? A bunch of porta potties? I really don’t see how that’s conducive to this rural environment.”
Bernardini has lived on the property next to the potential construction site for seven years and has seen the idyllic, country view from his home shrink when the Peterson CAT facility was built across the street.
“I don’t mind having neighbors, that’s not the issue,” Bernardini said. “We’ll have a big wall here or a chain link fence. It ruins the whole view, that’s why you live here. Our west view was completely ruined by the Peterson CAT facility. It wasn’t supposed to be half that size when they built it. That’s my concern here. They start out with one thing; next thing you know, we got a whole trucking outfit going on right here.”
Corral, Bernardini and many other San Martin residents feel that San Martin has become a dumping ground for many of Santa Clara County’s projects. The San Martin Transfer Center (a garbage dump), the Santa Clara Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility on Murphy Ave (open the first weekend in June) and problems with illegal dumping have irked many San Martin residents.
“There is a bad problem of people constantly dumping trash, dirt, brush, cement and tires on the sides of roads,” Corral said. “It is a big problem here as there is less law enforcement presence and it much more rural so it easier to do without being seen”
Attempts to reach Middleton Consulting have been unsuccessful at this time, but partial details of the project were obtained from Santa Clara County Project Planner Valerie Negrete.
“There has been an application to have a portable storage use at that property and it would require a use permit and architectural site approval,” Negrete said. “At this point, they have only been in the application process and it hasn’t been completed yet and we haven’t taken any action on the project. In the next several weeks there will be a community meeting where a representative will come and speak about the project to let people know what it is and what they are proposing. The county will also be there to answer any questions.”
As of Wednesday morning, the time and date of the meeting have not been announced. The next meeting of the San Martin Planning Advisory Committee is May 24 at 7 p.m. at the South County Office Building on 80 West Highland Ave. The architectural plan of the project can be found on the Santa Clara County Planning website under current projects.