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Bernardi Cites Trash Increase, Asks L.A. to Reopen Mountains Landfill

February 08, 1987|PATRICIA KLEIN | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi has asked that the city take steps to reopen the Mission Canyon Landfill in the Santa Monica Mountains.

His proposal, which calls for the county Sanitation District to reopen Mission Canyon, "and/or Rustic-Sullivan Canyon" nearby, was seconded by Councilman Gilbert Lindsay. The council referred the matter without debate to the Public Works Committee.

But a leader of homeowners who have fought similar proposals vowed to oppose the latest one.

Bernandi argues that the San Fernando Valley unfairly bears the brunt of the city's trash burden. He points out that the San Fernando Valley generates about 43% of the city's trash, but its three dumps receive about 93% of the 16,500 tons of garbage the city amasses daily.

"The Valley should be required to accept no more than its fair share of that burden," Bernardi said in a recent statement.

'Major Opposition' Planned

"We will make every effort to mount a major opposition utilizing the efforts of all the homeowner associations in the city," said Betty Laties, a member and former president of the Brentwood Community Federation. "The last time, I think there were 48 homeowners associations represented at the ultimate hearing downtown."

"The homeowners have become considerably more sophisticated" she said in a telephone interview. "They have resources now by which they can raise funds to wage lawsuits."

She said it would be "an environmentally unsafe practice" to put waste into the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains because they decompose and leach into ground water.

"Once the ground water is contaminated, it is permanently contaminated."

The City Council would have to approve a permit before the county-owned landfill could reopen--something it has steadfastly refused to do despite increasing shortages of dump sites and requests from the county.

The city's refusal has triggered retaliatory action by the county, which stopped allowing the city to use several county-owned dumps in the San Gabriel Valley, Bernardi said in a telephone interview.

First Fairness Test

"It's a question of whether the Valley's going to be treated fairly," he said.

"The rationale for mangling the Valley with redistricting was that the Valley would have a stronger voice in City Hall," Bernardi said, referring to the recent remapping that increased the number of San Fernando Valley representatives from five to eight. "Well, here's the first test."

The county bought the 496-acre Mission Canyon Landfill in the late 1950s after backyard burning, a major source of air pollution, was banned. Dumping began in 1960 and continued until 1965, when the county shifted operations to an adjacent, privately owned canyon to prolong the life of the Mission Canyon Landfill.

But when the district prepared to reopen Mission Canyon in 1977, it met stiff opposition from neighbors who had moved into homes along the landfill's northern rim, and the city refused to grant the necessary conditional-use permit.

In 1981, as another movement was afoot to reopen the landfill, methane gas generated by decomposing garbage was discovered under a street in the nearby Bel-Air Skycrest subdivision just south of Mulholland Drive. The council again denied the permit request, and the methane is being piped out.

Took No Action

In November, 1985, the council took no action--which was tantamount to approval--on a proposed County Solid Waste Management Plan that named Mission Canyon as a potential landfill site.

But City Councilman Marvin Braude, in whose district the dump is located, said then that the council would deny it a permit.

Bernardi said Braude has told him he will fight the reopening proposal.

Bernardi said the Mission, Sullivan and Rustic Canyon dump sites could hold 428 million tons, solving the city's trash disposal problems for 75 to 100 years.

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