San Diego County disposes of more than one million tons of compostable materials in landfills every year. Better management of these discards (yard trimmings, food scraps, manure, etc.) will improve air and water quality, reduce soil erosion, revitalize agricultural and garden soils, ensure a robust and healthy food system, and create local jobs while protecting human health and improving the quality of life for the region’s populace.

Several recent California mandates require source reduction, separation, landfill diversion and composting. While state regulations are generally well-defined and friendly to composting, local zoning and land use rules in San Diego County typically are not.

Hidden Resources identified local barriers to composting and developed recommendations to improve planning, facilitate composting, and help local jurisdictions comply with state mandates. 

Scope of the Project (July-Sept 2017):

  • Research local zoning and land use rules for compatibility with organics processing, including getting input from community gardeners, farmers, city planners and compost experts to identify opportunities and challenges.
  • Research model zoning and land use rules and best management practices.
  • Demonstrate the need for proper organics processing to facilitate local access and production of healthy food.
  • Develop case studies with one small and one large jurisdiction.
  • Organize and conduct stakeholder workshops focused on helping local planners develop zoning and land use rules for organics processing.
  • Draft model zoning and land use rule language.
  • Compile findings into a Healthy Food, Healthy Soils Toolkit.

Workshop One:

The first workshop was held on July 31, 2017. Planners, recycling staff, and other key stakeholders in all jurisdictions within San Diego County attended to share the goals of the project and obtain feedback on existing challenges. Power Point slides from the workshop are available here.

Workshop Two:

The second workshop was held at the 3rd Annual Food Waste Solution Summit on September 26, 2017, where final recommendations were presented for feedback. 

Project Contacts:

Rich Flammer, Principal, Hidden Resources (hiddenresources@sbcglobal.net)
Tyla Montgomery Soylu, Project Engineer, Hidden Resources (tyla@compostingconsultant.com)
Elly Brown, Director, San Diego Food System Alliance (elly@sdfsa.org)


This project supports Live Well San Diego, the County’s vision of a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely, and Thriving. The material was produced by the California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch with funding from USDA SNAP-Ed, known in California as CalFresh. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers. CalFresh provides assistance to low-income households and can help buy nutritious food for better health. For CalFresh information, call 1-877-847-3663. For important nutrition information, visit CaChampionsForChange.net.