County Supervisor Pete Schabarum says he welcomes last week's Los Angeles City Council action that permits Mission Canyon to be considered as a potential garbage dump site but urged the city to set aside its opposition to the actual operation of a dump in the Santa Monica Mountains.
His comment came after the council decided to take no action--tantamount to approval--on a proposed County Solid Waste Management Plan (COSWAMP) that named Mission Canyon, near the Mountaingate development overlooking the San Diego Freeway, as a potential landfill site.
The City Council, however, has long opposed reopening Mission Canyon as a garbage dump, as proposed in the county plan. And council members have said they would block use of the site by denying the necessary conditional-use permits.
Last week's action "really doesn't make much difference," said City Councilman Marvin Braude, whose 11th District includes the Mission Canyon area as well as two other canyons--Rustic and Sullivan--which the county also proposed as landfill sites. "The county couldn't have a landfill without a conditional-use permit. And the council has indicated its opposition. "
But Schabarum was gratified. "Their action is very consistent with what is required under state law," he said, "so, yes, I'm very pleased by the non-action that actually achieves the goal of having an approvable (solid waste plan)."
Tantamount to Approval
The council's decision not to act on the plan was tantamount to approval, according to Bill McCarley, the city's chief legislative analyst.
"Under the law, if the city did not disapprove it, it's deemed approved," McCarley said. At the same time, however, he said, "The council made it very clear that . . . their position has not changed with regard to opening those canyons."
The city has twice rejected county requests to reopen the dump at Mission Canyon, which has become a residential area in the last two decades.
In addition to conditional-use permits, environmental impact reports would be required before the canyons could be opened up for use as landfills, officials said. That process is a lengthy one.
The City Council's reaffirmation of its opposition was "just for the record," said Schabarum, whose district in the southern and eastern portions of the county contain many landfills.
"With regard to Mission Canyon," he said, "that's currently their (the city's) stance and hopefully it doesn't remain that way, because the bottom line is that the city of Los Angeles is currently generating 15,000 tons of refuse a day, and currently they are handling 75% of that within facilities inside the city. They've got to handle 100%."
Opposition by Residents
If the county tries to get Mission Canyon reopened or to use Rustic and Sullivan canyons for a landfill, residents will have to "go to war," to stop it, said Nita Rosenfeld, an activist with the Mandeville Canyon Assn., a homeowners group.
She said the county's persistent efforts to use the mountain canyons amount to "a power grab, coming back every six months."
"The county has a cat-in-the-litter-box complex," said Betsy Laties, president of the Brentwood Community Federation, which represents several homeowner groups.
"They think if you dig a hole and bury it, it's gone, but it's not." Residents are concerned about ground water, health and air pollution problems, she said.
"We're going to do what we've done in the past," she said. "We're going to lobby City Hall, write to the mayor, appear at every hearing. We're going to push for a sensible solution to waste problems and insist that the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains are not the appropriate place for putting the city's trash."
It was Schabarum who led a move by the Board of Supervisors that blocked construction of a refuse-to-energy plant in South-Central Los Angeles by declining to endorse the solid waste management plan unless the city agreed to include the three canyons in it.
"By precipitating the crisis with regard to LANCER (Los Angeles City Energy Recovery Project), they were in effect blackmailing the city," Braude said.
The city hoped to get around that obstacle by winning passage of a bill in the Legislature exempting the refuse-to-energy plant from the requirement that a countywide plan be enacted before such a project was built.
But the measure was vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian, who said LANCER had not met all planning and permit requirements. He also criticized the city's handling of waste problems in general, which was seen as a veiled criticism of Mayor Tom Bradley, his probable challenger in next year's election.
Other LANCER Projects
The veto early last month set the stage for the council's action Wednesday, which was part of a citywide program for dealing with the rubbish disposal problem through the year 2000.