Stink in Milpitas

The Silicon Valley odor problem seems incomprehensible. Learn about the history and current issues of the Newby Island Landfill.

car window crankWhen I was a youngster 60 or so years ago, we had a song we would sing as we drove from Oakland to Santa Cruz for a day at the Beach-Boardwalk. We’d drive our parents nuts with the repetitive drone of “doo-do-n-do-doo” over and over again, and then shouting out the name of each city we went through for the whole hour+ drive. Each had a specific hand gesture, and I don’t remember most of them any longer, but for Milpitas we’d make the gesture of rolling up the car windows with window cranks (Remember those?) while really rolling up the windows as fast as we could. No air conditioned cars back in those days! Windows down the whole way…except through Milpitas. The stink was so bad back in the 50’s and 60’s and…so on. Back then the explanation was the rotten fruit and fruit peels from the canneries around here.

So why, 60 years later, does Milpitas still stink?


A child explains the Silicon Valley odor problem to us adults in this Milpitas Odor Info video. Learn about the history and current issues surrounding Newby Island Landfill Expansion in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Politics and Lawsuits

Dateline June 12, 2018. Republic Services and other facilities throughout California lobbied and killed AB 1975 (the odor taskforce bill).  Opposition worked it hard this year and got facilities throughout the state to send letters and call their assembly members. Not enough votes to get the bill off the Assembly floor. It is very disappointing that other state assemblymen would go against a harmless bill that merely mandates the participation of odor nuisance offenders in a local task force. Kansen Chu’s staff will continue working with the air districts and local enforcement agency to see if something else can be done outside of legislation in the meantime.


BAAQMD 3/20/2017 discussion of the San Jose/Milpitas odor issues
Watch Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty grilled BAAQMD staff. He has gotten a lot of complaints from his constituents. He spoke out against San Jose’s bad decision and BAAQMD’s inaction. He called out the poor facilities siting near resident and that San Jose clearly stuck it to Milpitas and Fremont. He suggested San Jose should have used the existing ACE rail tracks to send waste to Altamont Landfill (in rural Livermore with no odor complaints) instead of processing waste within urban areas.

Milpitas, Calif., Opts to Continue Litigation Over Landfill Expansion Decision
The Milpitas City Council voted to continue litigation against the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery for not considering odor complaints in approving a landfill expansion.
Waste360 Staff | Jun 16, 2017

In November 2016, after putting off its decision for several months, Milpitas selected Garden City Sanitation Inc. as its new hauler, replacing longtime collector Republic Services.

OPINION: We Must Get Rid of The Smell
By Eric Shapiro, in Opinion on July 23, 2018.
In my mind, often, I say the word “Smellpitas.” Sometimes, while complaining, I say it out loud. And a dear colleague tells me “Milstinkas” is out there, in good, solid circulation. What exactly’s going on here? And how has it been allowed to sustain for so many years?

“They” keep telling us, “The number one thing you can do is call the BAAQMD odor hotline every time you smell it.” So the City put up this webpage with a form that allows you to put an photo of the bad smell. Oh, really? I guess you could send them a photo of your home, windows all closed tight, and a thermometer showing the heat, and maybe a wind indicator, too.

Report odor to 1-800-334-6367 or click here.

How bad is the stink?

Well, we have our own twitter hashtag for it: #MilpitasStinks.
Notice that most posts are fairly long ago. Has the air improved or have residents quit complaining?

We tried to limit expansion


Should a South Bay landfill on the border of San Jose and Milpitas be allowed to expand? Neighbors say no, and with a decision later this month, many neighbors are escalating grass-roots efforts to stop the expansion. NBC Bay Area’s Marianne Favro reports with a closer look at their last-ditch efforts to curb the unbearable smell. (Published Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015)

Home Buyers Beware!

Prasad asked on TruliaI was considering buying a house in Milpitas close to the 880/237 intersection and surrounding areas. Lately someone mentioned that there is a bad smell problem in that area during the summer. Does anybody know what the problem is? What is the source of that smell and which area in particular feel this? I don’t believe it is the case for entire Milpitas. It would be great if you can share your experience/thought/opinion (objective though 🙂 )

The south end of town is spared the smell. Anywhere south of Calaveras Blvd. to the San Jose border. The older neighborhoods with yards are on the hill side (east side) of Milpitas and have names like Park Blocks (homes clustered around parks), and Milford. The southwest side of town, where BART is going in and Light Rail already exists, has lots of brand new condo-style homes. If you are very rich, living in a mansion in the hills is an option, but you will need to worry about wildfires, landslides, rattlesnakes, and coyotes eating pets. Oh, and wells going dry, and less than optimal sewage systems.

Where is the Newby Island Landfill, and What is Near it?

Newby Island Aerial Shot

Newby Island Aerial Shot

Note that the San Jose/Santa Clara waste water treatment plant is also in the same area. The future plans for this facility includes major odor mitigation strategies like covering the sludge drying area. However, this will take many years to fund and implement.

See also ~ Recycling & Garbage

Leave a comment below about how The Bad Odor i affecting your life, or any suggestions for a solution.

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