I’m using a posting on the Seal Beach Daily blog to share my perspective on an issue in the district, the recent composting project on the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.  I’m also using a photo from the OC Register’s website (with a link to their article).

This project started with Brigadier General James Combs, who recently retired, as an opportunity to trade services for base maintenance purposes.

Major General John Harrel is now overseeing the Base.  In order to assist him in becoming acquainted with the neighboring cities, I organized a lunch in my office (at the behest of Cypress Mayor Doug Bailey) with the Mayors of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Cypress, the President of the Rossmoor Community Services District and the Major General.  The Major General was out of the area for the entire month of September and this was the soonest that he could schedule a meet-and-greet.

With the heat wave in late September and some mixture errors, the odor this project produced was noticeable in the City of Garden Grove.  Consequently, I also invited the Mayor of Garden Grove to join us.

We met around my conference table on Wednesday afternoon for more than 2 ½ hours.  The session was very productive.  Of the many issues that were addressed, Major General Harrel announced that he was not allowing any more shipments of composting materials on the Base until he had staff review the contracts.  Major General Harrel is also an Assistant Attorney General for the State of California.  He’s a “no nonsense” person.  And he was very kind to engage everyone around the table on the various concerns their cities had.

I’m appreciative of the high caliber individuals that we have in leadership roles in my District.  The discussion and decorum was very professional and we all agreed that it was time well spent.


Sgt. Jan Bender, Los Angeles Area Regional Public Affairs Officer for the California National Guard holds a handful of finished mulch from the composting project on the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. The base has suspended the project temporarily to determine the source of a bad smell neighbors have complained about.


Seal Beach Daily

Los Alamitos base halts compost project


The mayors of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cypress and Garden Grove issued a joint statement today announcing that the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base has suspended its controversial green waste composting project.

Residents in all four cities have been complaining in recent weeks about odors from the composting project, which is based near Arbor Park in Seal Beach’s College Park East neighborhood.

Seal Beach City Manager David Carmany shared the announcement this afternoon:

After more than five months of effort, a West Orange County consortium of Mayors has been successful in working with the leadership of the Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB) to order a cessation of the Base’s pilot composting project until further notice. The Base’s decision was provided during a meeting on Wednesday, October 7th with the Mayors of Cypress, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach, JFTB Commander, Major General John Harrel, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach and President of the Rossmoor Community Services District, Alfred Coletta.

“We consider this to be a thoughtful and prudent action by Major General Harrel,” said Los Alamitos Mayor, Troy Edgar. “He is clearly focused on the mission of the Base and we agree completely that the composting program has potentially proven to be a distraction. We support the General’s decision completely and hope to be involved along with our neighboring cities in any further discussion of the issue.” Mayor Edgar has been working closely with Mayors of Cypress, Seal Beach and Garden Grove in working with the JFTB to reconsider its position of undertaking the composting program.

“To us, this has always been an issue of the JFTB undertaking non-military activities on Base property,” said Cypress Mayor Douglas A. Bailey. “We have been watching these actions closely, and remain concerned that the military function of the Base is being superseded improperly by other activities that may not be in the long-term best interests of the surrounding communities.” The cities of Cypress, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach have been meeting and communicating with command staff at the Base for the past five months in an effort to gain greater understanding of the project, the approval and environmental clearance processes and potential impacts on local residents. Seal Beach Mayor, Gordon Shanks stated that “for us, this began as a traffic impact issue regarding the potential of managing an influx of overweight trucks on Lampson Avenue, but quickly grew into something larger and more impactful on many of our residents. We are very pleased that the Base has decided to reconsider its options.”

Though local cities have been watching the composting program closely for some time, recent complaints from local neighborhoods in Garden Grove, Cypress and Los Alamitos about odors emanating from the composting windrows occupying nearly 12 acres on the southeast section of the JFTB seems to have crystallized the ongoing concerns of the cities about the unexamined and unintended impacts of such land use decisions. “When Tony Flores of the West Garden Grove Residents Association called me about the odor at the Base, I toured the neighborhood. Upon confirming that the odor was coming from the Base, I contacted them to arrange a tour to ascertain the cause of the odor and possible remedies,” said Garden Grove Mayor William Dalton. “I was pleased that my colleagues in the other surrounding cities were active and were establishing mechanisms to address these issues in a coordinated manner and happy that I could contribute in a meaningful way. Our residents are the true winners here, and I am certain we will continue to work together as we go forward.”

Major General Harrel has announced that he will actively engage the cities of Cypress, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach in future discussions of the composting and other non-military land use issues on the JFTB.

Update: Base spokeswoman Laura Herzog told the Orange County Register that the base has not permanently cancelled the project or “changed its agreement with the contractor, Oxnard-based Agromin.” Once the source of the odor is found and eliminated, the project will resume, she said.


October 10


In a Sunday guest editorial submission by Reed Royalty in the OC Register, titled “A checklist for grading school-bond initiatives,” Reed outlined the Orange County Taxpayers Association’s criteria.  At the conclusion he acknowledged those who assisted in developing their grading structure.

The taxpayers association is indebted to the California Taxpayers Association, Assemblymember Scott Baugh, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach and State Sen. Joe Dunn for some of these ideas.