Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson said Tuesday that he will withdraw his request to have Elsmere Canyon, the site of a proposed garbage dump, placed in the city's "sphere of influence" if it is allowed to remain under county jurisdiction.
"I only wanted to protect the city's interests," he said. "We have no desire to annex that area."
Bernson's comments follow a vote by the Santa Clarita City Council on Monday to compete with Los Angeles for control of the site. The county Local Agency Formation Commission will rule on the dispute after a hearing Jan. 27.
Under state law, incorporated cities can request that contiguous unincorporated land be declared within their sphere of influence, giving the city government some control over land-use decisions in the zone.
Elsmere Canyon and surrounding land is slated to be developed into a dump through a joint-powers agreement between the City of Los Angeles and the county. The site is between Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, near the interchange of the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways.
Bernson spearheaded the Los Angeles City Council request to LAFCO the week before Santa Clarita's incorporation Dec. 15. He said he feared the new city might attempt to block the landfill development.
"We had a report that Santa Clarita intended to initiate annexation of the site immediately," he said.
Santa Clarita City Council members denied that they intend to annex the area.
The resolution adopted by Santa Clarita states the city's reason for requesting sphere-of-influence control over the Elsmere Canyon site is "to preserve existing land uses and monitor future development . . . that will be compatible with these uses . . . "
"We just want to be given equal consideration by LAFCO," said Santa Clarita Councilwoman JoAnne Darcy. "Our city wants to have some input into the development process."
Darcy added that she believes Los Angeles wants to annex the area.
Santa Clarita council members have said they are concerned that a dump in the Elsmere Canyon area could threaten the city's ground-water supply. Drainage from the landfill would flow downhill into Santa Clarita, they said.
"It could be a problem if not developed properly," Darcy said of the dump.
Santa Clarita Councilwoman Jan Heidt noted that the Elsmere Canyon area is closer to Santa Clarita than to Los Angeles. She said Los Angeles should begin recycling programs and consider expanding the existing Sunshine Canyon landfill near Granada Hills, in Bernson's district, instead of developing a dump outside its boundaries.
However, Bernson said Los Angeles will run out of garbage sites by 1993. The development of Elsmere Canyon as a landfill would allow Los Angeles, other cities and the county to dump there for 50 years, he said.
"Obviously, expanding Sunshine Canyon is not the answer," he said. "There are homes within 1,600 feet of that landfill. Elsmere Canyon is in a remote area. It's not near anything."
Bernson said he does not want to quarrel with Santa Clarita.
"It is my desire to be a good, friendly neighbor," he said. "I'm perfectly willing to withdraw my request to LAFCO if everybody agrees to leave Elsmere Canyon under the county."