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Board of Realtors Seeks Lobbying Allies to Halt Waste Plants

January 22, 1987|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

The Monrovia-Duarte Board of Realtors has begun an effort to persuade the California Assn. of Realtors to lobby on behalf of legislation aimed at curtailing construction of waste-to-energy plants, including one that Pacific Waste Management Corp. wants to build in Irwindale.

Citing the dangers of increased air pollution and a potential decline in property values, Bill Van Buskirk of the Monrovia-Duarte board asked 15 representatives of realty boards throughout the San Gabriel Valley to support three bills introduced recently by Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte).

The bills would require equitable distribution of solid-waste facilities throughout the county and create a "sensitive zone" in the San Gabriel Valley and in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Projects within the zone would be required to arrange pollution reduction within the area.

"Realtors should oppose the plant because of the decline in property values," Van Buskirk said. "The San Gabriel Valley is a dump for Los Angeles County."

Several Steps Necessary

Mike Belote, legislative advocate for the California Assn. of Realtors, said several steps must be taken before the state group would agree to lobby for Tanner's bills.

A local board first would have to adopt a resolution seeking such action, Belote said. The legislative committee of the state organization then would consider the matter at a meeting in March. The 85-member committee would decide whether to recommend that the association's directors, who also meet in March, agree to the proposal.

Chances of the state body getting involved would be increased if several local boards sought such participation, Belote said. "We watch 1,000 bills every legislative session, so we stick to the most important things," he said.

Van Buskirk said the Monrovia-Duarte board has adopted a resolution asking that the state body lobby on behalf of Tanner's bills. Copies of the resolution will be sent to 15 boards in the San Gabriel Valley and the San Bernardino area in hopes that it will be approved by those boards, he said.

Van Buskirk had hoped to get a consensus at a gathering of area real estate agents two weeks ago.

However, some brokers said their boards either had not discussed the issue or did not have enough information about waste-to-energy plants to take a stand.

Insufficient Knowledge

Representatives of the Whittier and the Hacienda Rowland Diamond Bar boards said their groups have not acted because they do not know enough about the plants.

Although the Glendora area probably would be most affected by the proposed Irwindale plant, Ann Chase of the Azusa-Glendora Board of Realtors said, "Our board has not taken a stand because we have not been actively involved in the issue."

The Pomona Valley Board of Realtors voted not to take a stand after hearing presentations from both Pacific Waste and representatives of Forrest Tennant, a West Covina city councilman active in the fight against the plant.

"This has lay dormant for a year and the boards should have been educated then," said Peter Gottuso of the Pomona board. "Now it is almost too late."

Lynn Wessell, president of the Los Angeles County Boards of Realtors, said his organization has done little about the trash issue because of minimal interest among the 38 boards that his group represents.

Sensitive Zone

Tanner's bill to create a sensitive zone would narrow the geographic area in which waste-to-energy plants could obtain pollution off sets.

Under existing rules, companies can obtain offsets by paying other companies in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties to reduce pollution. Under Tanner's bill, companies that propose to build plants in the sensitive zone, which would include the San Gabriel Valley and Riverside and San Bernardino counties, would be required to purchase offsets within the zone.

A second bill would require that the waste-to-energy facilities be equitably distributed throughout any one county. Tanner said two-thirds of Los Angeles County's solid waste is placed in landfills in the San Gabriel Valley, although the area generates for less than one-fourth of the county's refuse.

The third bill would remove provisions for automatic approval for permit applications for waste-to-energy plants. Current law provides that such applications are deemed approved if not acted upon by the appropriate governmental agency within specified time frames.

Last year, Van Buskirk said, a bill introduced by Tanner died in committee.

Pacific Waste filed an application with the state Energy Commission in 1984 to build a plant to generate 80 megawatts of electricity by burning 3,000 tons of trash a day.

Opposing Voices

An agency of the city of Irwindale sold $395 million in bonds for the project, but the proposal ran into opposition from Miller Brewing Co., which owns a brewery near the proposed plant site, and from officials of neighboring cities who contend that the plant would add pollution to an already smoggy area.

After Pacific Waste was unable to meet the Energy Commission's pollution and trash requirements, the company announced last September that it would build the plant in two stages, with an initial capacity of 2,250 tons a day and an ultimate capacity of 3,000 tons a day.

In December, an Energy Commission committee ruled that Pacific Waste could reduce the plant's initial capacity.

By reducing the size of the plant, Pacific Waste will burn less trash and produce less pollution, reducing the offset credits required for the first stage.

Last week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District reported that Pacific Waste has failed to obtain sufficient offset credits for the proposed incinerator. The Energy Commission has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 5 to consider Pacific Waste's application.

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