Tag Archives: nestle in sacramento

Save Our Water Sacramento Group Files Administrative Appeal Against Nestle’s Sacramento Plant

Nestle surely thought they’d snuck their Sacramento water bottling plant in through the back door (even a city memo acknowledged the company’s “penchant for secrecy”), but like so many other places, they’re now facing determined opposition.

Sadly for Nestle, the group uncovered a highly questionable permitting process, the appearance of a conflict of interest with a top mayoral advisor, and a development staff seemingly willing to keep the whole project hidden from public view.

In other words, it’s business as usual for Nestle – and at least some of Sacramento’s residents have discovered this sad fact:

Sacramento Press / Group to file Nestlé appeal

In a precursor to any potential legal action, a grassroots organization expects to take its next step in the fight against the Nestlé water-bottling plant by filing an administrative appeal with the city of Sacramento this week.

A Swiss public TV crew is coming to Sacramento Thursday to interview members of the group, Save Our Water Sacramento, which will re-screen the bottled-water documentary “Tapped” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Crest Theatre, 1013 K St.

Afterwards, group leaders will discuss plans to appeal the city’s designation of the Swiss company’s $14-million construction project as ministerial, rather than discretionary. A discretionary designation of a project that could possibly harm the environment triggers a requirement for an environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act. A ministerial designation does not.

The California Environmental Quality Act also requires all administrative remedies be exhausted before a lawsuit can be filed, said Evan Tucker, a Sacramento resident who helps lead Save Our Water Sacramento.

“Those are supposed to exist as an alternative to litigation,” he said. “We can make our case to the city as to why the decision is incorrect.”

The group has been seeking an environmental analysis of the plant since at least September, Tucker said. City Councilmember Kevin McCarty asked the council last month to consider amending the city’s zoning code to immediately require special permits for water-bottling plants, but the proposal was never discussed.

Note the presence of a Swiss film crew; when a French film crew visited McCloud last year, I learned that Nestle’s reputation in Europe is less than sterling.

Surprise.

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Bad Public Process Follows Nestle Water Bottling Operation to Sacramento

While their claim to “good corporate citizenship” seemingly doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, it is true that Nestle Waters of North America certainly knows how to slink into town and cut a deal before the public is aware of anything.

It’s happened in almost every small town situation (and we’ve certainly mentioned it before) – and it’s happened again in the case of their Sacramento plant.

Not only was the economic development director apparently aiding the company in keeping their project secret, Nestle also took advantage of a (possibly illegal program) that allowed them to begin work on their plant before the necessary permits were issued (via the Sacramento Bee):

For three years, the city of Sacramento has allowed developers to start work on their projects before receiving formal permits.The practice, covered by the controversial Facilities Permit Program FPP, is now part of an expanding city investigation into the operations of its Community Development Department.

That investigation was launched after city officials said the son of a city councilman improperly allowed new homes to be built in the Natomas flood zone – months before permits for those homes were issued.

Questions about the permit program surfaced this week after city officials determined that construction of a new Nestlé water bottling plant was permitted to start with a verbal approval and authorization letter – and not a formal building permit.

You can read the whole post at Sacramento let developers get jump-start before formal permits – Sacramento News – Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee.

Nestle “Penchant For Secrecy” Questioned By Sacramento Residents

Nestle’s somewhat sorry reputation is dogging it wherever it goes – resulting in what a Sacramento economic development official called “a penchant for secrecy.”

This quote from a story in the Sacramento Bee nicely sums up a key part of the Nestle playbook:

In one e-mail in May, city Economic Development Manager James Rinehart refers to the company’s “penchant for secrecy.” In another, shortly after the signing of the lease in July, Rinehart wrote that the company still didn’t want its name revealed because it was “working on a press release that takes into account that there are some people opposed to bottled water firms.”

First, let’s be clear: it’s not simply bottled water that’s drawing the ire of activists; it’s Nestle’s predatory behavior elsewhere that is creating across-the-board opposition to the company.

Nestle’s “penchant for secrecy” is a direct result of the company’s “penchant” for doing the wrong thing (whether that’s suing a tiny town, or fighting to keep pumping water even after it’s clear they’re damaging the watershed, or attempting to subpoena the private financial records of opponents, or…)

That Nestle fought so hard to keep their project a secret isn’t a surprise – they’ve followed that practice from the very beginning, and if there’s any justice in the universe, they’re suffering the consequences of their prior actions.

After all, they have nothing to hide beyond that which they’ve done in the past…

Nestle Sacramento Project Served With “Stop Work” Order

Nestle Waters of North America should probably be looking for the “kick me” sign taped to its back; the warm reception it initially received in Sacramento has turned chilly, and in fact, questions about the project and the permits have turned into a “stop work” order issued to the company (via the Sacramento Bee):

The city of Sacramento has ordered food giant Nestlé to stop work on construction of a new bottled water plant in south Sacramento while the City Council decides whether to impose new planning requirements on such facilities.

The council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to require special permits for beverage bottling plants – which means they would have to go through public hearings before the Planning Commission and council.

Whatever the outcome, Nestle now has to wonder if its reputation – which is not exactly sterling – will continue to dog it even when chasing plants in formerly Nestle-friendly locations. It’s likely, and if anybody’s earned it, its the predatory Nestle.

Nestle’s Raid on Sacramento (Excellent Dan Bacher Op-Ed Piece)

**The following is a Dan Bacher Op-Ed piece about Nestle’s water bottling project in Sacramento**

Oct. 19, 2009 – Councilmember Kevin McCarty again raised the issue of the plan by Nestle to build a new bottling plant in South Sacramento at last Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting as grassroots community activists mobilized against the internationally boycotted corporation coming to the Capital City.

McCarty asked for the issue to be agendized for a future city council meeting so that an “urgency ordinance” can be passed, according to Save Our Water in Sacramento, the grassroots group fighting against Nestle’s plan to come to Sacramento after being kicked out of McCloud by massive local resistance.

“Councilmember McCarty will be asking the council to pass an urgency ordinance that would require a special permit for water bottling facilities in the city,” said Evan Tucker, an activist with Save Our Water. “This would require this type of project to come before the city council and be subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.”

“We are excited about this development, but concerned about the timeline,” Tucker stated. “If the council does not agendize this issue soon, it could be too late for the new law to affect Nestle. We want to make sure the ordinance would affect Nestle, not just bottling plants in the future.”

Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond also said she was concerned about water bottling in this city and wanted this issue addressed by the council, noted Tucker. However, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson supports the proposal by Nestle to open up the plant, claiming it would bring “jobs” to Sacramento.

Nestle claims the Sacramento plant would be a “micro-bottling plant,” bottling only 50 million gallons of water per year. However, according to the Department of Utilities, the estimated water usage is 215 thousand – 320 thousand gallons of water per day (78 – 116 millions per year). “This would make Nestle one of the top ten water users in Sacramento at a time when we are in our third consecutive year of a drought,” emphasized Tucker.

At a time when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Legislators are campaigning for a peripheral canal to steal more water from the Sacramento River to supply unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and unsustainable development in southern California, we don’t need a huge corporation such as Nestle making immense profits off a public trust resource, Sacramento’s water supply!

Human rights activists and breast feeding advocates from throughout the world have boycotted the Swiss-based Nestle Corporation since 1977 because of the millions of deaths of infants it has caused over the decades. The boycott, coordinated by groups including Baby Milk Action, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) , Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) and Save the Children, was prompted by concern about the company’s marketing of breast milk substitutes (infant formula), particularly in less economically developed countries, which campaigners claim contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies, largely among the poor.

“Nestle is targeted with the boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company,” according to Baby Milk Action.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe, a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea than a breastfed child. “Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued,” according to UNICEF.

Anti-Nestle organizations are sponsoring this year’s Nestle-Free Week from October 26 to November 1 in an effort to raise the profile of the boycott.

Do we want a criminal corporation responsible for the deaths of millions of infants come to Sacramento to make immense profits off our water supply?

Please spend a moment to contact Kevin McCarty and Lauren Hammond and let them know that you want the urgency ordinance passed in time to apply to Nestle. Contact Kevin McCarty at (916) 808-7006 or KMcCarty [at] cityofsacramento.org and Lauren Hammond at (916) 808-7005 or lhammond [at] cityofsacramento.org

Also, Save Our Water will be holding a screening of Tapped at the Crest Theater at 1013 K Street, Sacramento, on Wednesday, October 21. There will be screenings at 5:30 pm and 8 pm. Tickets will be regular box office prices: $9.50 for general admission, $6.00 for students & seniors. You can also purchase them online prior to the event at:
http://www.tickets.com/browseother.cgi?minpid=6622428

For more information, go to http://www.SaveOurWaterSacramento.org

Editor’ Note: Dan Bacher is editor of The Fish Sniffer: www.fishsniffer.com

Can Cascade Locks, Sacramento Trust Nestle’s Job Projections?

Nestle’s announcement that it was leaving McCloud wasn’t wholly unexpected, but in many ways, it’s still difficult to entirely believe the project is dead.

Nestle has chosen to continue its belated flow studies, and the MCSD was choosing a water committee to study the issue (some charge the committee was being stacked with pro-Nestle members).

And while it’s tempting to credit Nestle’s egress entirely to local activists (Concerned Citizens, McCloud Watershed Council, Protect Our Waters and CalTrout chief among them), the market clearly played a strong hand.

After all, Nestle’s bottled water revenues were down 3% the first half of this year, and it’s clear their “premium” spring water brands took a much bigger hit in favor of their tap-water derived, less-expensive Pure Life brand.

With fuel costs running far higher than when the McCloud project was first conceived, and demand shifting to the “value” priced segment of the market, Nestle’s relocation to Sacramento makes a certain sense – as does their interest in building more, smaller plants.

Which raises the obvious question; had Nestle’s original (and astonishingly lopsided) contract with the MCSD been allowed to stand as negotiated, how many of Nestle’s promised jobs would still be extant in the town of McCloud?

On StopNestleWaters.org, we’ve long questioned Nestle’s promises of jobs to communities; the only real data we’ve seen published suggests the promises aren’t always real.

Nestle may not want to admit it, but they can’t have it both ways; if market conditions truly forced the move to a smaller, differently configured production facility in Sacramento, then it’s not hard to extrapolate to a present where McCloud would have been repayed for its water with an even fewer jobs than promised (many of those jobs of the sub-living wage variety).

It’s entirely likely a Nestle factory in McCloud would be running at a fraction of its built-out capacity – and McCloud would be experiencing yet another resource-extraction related economic bust.

Should the bottled water market continue to nosedive, what of the jobs Nestle dangles in front of other communities?

After all, Cascade Locks seems to believe the jobs provided by the company will save their town – and Sacramento seems willing to give up unlimited municipal water in return for only 40-60 jobs.

But what if those jobs are illusory, especially after three more years of a declining bottled water market?