monterey road toilet storage site plan
A site plan shows the layout of a proposed portable toilet storage lot on Monterey Road in San Martin. Image: County of Santa Clara
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The Santa Clara County Planning Commission delayed its consideration of a portable toilet storage facility in San Martin Jan. 18, as most members said they needed more information about the company’s operations and potential impacts on neighbors before making a decision. 

Washington-based Honey Bucket, which provides toilets and sanitation services for special events and construction sites, is looking to construct a fenced storage area in addition to a parking lot, restroom and detention pond on a nearly four-acre site at 13755 Monterey Road in San Martin, between California and Roosevelt avenues.

Pat Donohoue, operations manager for Honey Bucket in Northern California, said drivers would load the toilets onto their trucks between 5-7am and return to drop them off as late as 7pm, after they have been cleaned off-site.

The facility could also operate occasionally 24/7, based on emergency needs or large events, according to Donohoue.

Donohoue added that used toilets would be taken to the wastewater treatment plant in Gilroy, where they will be pumped out before being taken back to the San Martin facility.

“There will be no storage of full dirty units on site,” he said. “They are cleaned at the customer site. There will be no sewage anywhere on site.”

Donohoue said the company plans to hire up to 10 drivers and helpers from the local community.

“We really want to be a business the community is proud of,” he said. “We don’t want to be a stain on the community.”

The day before the planning commission meeting, the San Martin Planning Advisory Committee hosted a well-attended meeting to discuss the proposal. That committee voted to forward an unfavorable recommendation to the planning commission.

The project has been in the works since early 2020, and in March 2023, the San Martin Planning Advisory Committee held a preliminary review of the project.

Since then, county officials issued a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” for the project, which states that while it could have significant effects on the environment, mitigation measures can help reduce them.

Those include regulation by county and state environmental health departments, and replacing trees that have been removed during construction.

County officials have also received numerous letters from San Martin and other South County residents opposed to the project.

Stephen McHenry, president of the San Martin Neighborhood Association, said the facility would be more appropriately located in an industrial area in San Jose.

“None of the San Martin residents in the vicinity of this project that you have heard from or will hear from are in favor of this project,” he said. “If you would enjoy having a portable toilet facility share a fence with your property, where you live, then you can vote for it. If you would not want your property to share a fence with a portable toilet facility, then you should support the community and vote against this project.”

San Martin resident Joe Cambareri pointed to the plans that show vehicles can only exit the site by turning right onto Monterey Road. 

In addition, a traffic study for the project recommended the southbound Monterey Road left turn lane at San Martin Avenue be extended by 200 feet by removing the left turn at Burbank Avenue from northbound Monterey.

“We have concerns with the local traffic, especially since it’s right-turn-only,” he said. “If they want to go left on Monterey, they are going to come through neighborhoods on roads that are not supposed to have commercial traffic on them.”

Commissioner Marc Rauser said eliminating the turn lane at Burbank Avenue would have a major impact for residents and businesses in the area, and requested county staff re-look at the proposal and come up with alternatives.

In addition, Rauser motioned for a more detailed plan on landscaping that will shield the stored toilets from view, while looking at the feasibility of moving the facility closer to Monterey Road and limiting the hours of operation.

On a unanimous vote, the commission requested the information come back at a future meeting.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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