SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A proposal to put operations of the Miramar Landfill out to competitive bidding was forwarded to the full City Council by the Rules Committee Wednesday.

The plan ran into opposition from environmentalists and labor groups, and is complicated by the fact that the Navy owns the land and leases it to the city.

City staff addressed a number of concerns raised by committee members at a May meeting, including whether the Navy was onboard with the plan and how environmental issues would be addressed.

Chris Gonaver of the Environmental Services Department said the city would keep employees at the landfill to monitor compliance with environmental regulations, in case an outside firm submits the winning bid. He said the Navy is comfortable with the bidding plans.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald said too many environmental questions remain, and spending taxpayer money on getting answers would be irresponsible.

"Anyone who thinks environmental worries over the landfill is a red herring is smoking crack," Emerald said.

She and Sherri Lightner cast the dissenting votes in the 3-2 decision.

Under the managed competition program, the city takes bids on services from both private firms and employees of the affected department. The first area to go through the entire bidding process -- printing and copying -- was won by the workers.

The landfill is being put out to bid because an attempt by the city to sell the facility outright failed after companies in the waste disposal business said they would rather run it via contract than own it.

The committee simply moved the proposal up to the full council for consideration, and did not include a recommendation for passage.

If it is approved, bidding would not begin until November. A winner would probably not be selected until next spring.