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 of these materials. While state regulations are generally well-defined and friendly to this activity, local zoning and land use rules in San Diego County typically are not.

Hidden Resources and the San Diego Food System Alliance have been charged with identifying local barriers and developing recommendations to improve planning to facilitate composting and help local jurisdictions comply with mandates.

Scope of the Project (July-Sept 2017):

  • Research local zoning and land use rules for compatibility with organics processing, including interviews with community gardeners, farmers, city planners and compost experts to identify opportunities and challenges
  • Research model zoning and land use rules, and best management practices, exploring those of jurisdictions outside of San Diego County if necessary
  • Demonstrate the need for proper organics processing to facilitate local access and production of healthy food
  • Case study with a minimum of 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 reviewed by professional planner
  • Compile all findings into a Healthy Food, Healthy Soils Ordinance Toolkit

Workshop One:

First workshop was held on July 31st with planners, recycling staff, and other key stakeholders in all jurisdictions within San Diego County to share the goals of the project and obtain feedback on existing challenges.
Powerpoint slides from the workshop available here

Workshop Two:

Second workshop will be held at the 3rd Annual Food Waste Solution Summit on 9/26 where final recommendations will be presented for feedback. 

Project Contacts:

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


Healthy Foods, Healthy Soils is an activity supported by Live Well San Diego: Healthy Works and University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health. This project supports the Live Well San Diego vision for a healthy, safe and thriving region.