A land war between the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita over control of Elsmere Canyon, the site of a proposed garbage dump, was averted Wednesday when county officials decided that the area should remain under their jurisdiction.
The Local Agency Formation Commission voted to leave the canyon north of the San Fernando Valley under Los Angeles County control, denying requests from both cities to include the site within their spheres of influence.
Neither Los Angeles nor Santa Clarita officials opposed the LAFCO action, saying their requests to LAFCO were made merely to protect their city's interests.
Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson, that city's representative on LAFCO, invited Santa Clarita to become a third party to a joint-powers agreement, now between Los Angeles and the county, to develop a garbage dump on the site. The canyon lies between the two cities near the interchange of the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways.
"We want to be a good neighbor," he said.
The joint effort "represents the first step toward a possible solution to the solid-waste management crisis in the county," said LAFCO executive director Ruth Benell in a report to the commission. "Such cooperative efforts are needed to address the solid-waste management problem on a regional basis."
Many of the 10 landfills of significant size in the county could close in the early to mid-1990s if no positive action is taken, Benell noted.
Bernson said Los Angeles will run out of garbage sites by 1993. The development of Elsmere would allow Los Angeles, other cities and the county to dump there for the next 50 years, he said.
Threat to Water Supply?
Santa Clarita officials said they are concerned that the development of a major landfill on the site could threaten the city's water supply. Drainage from the dump could flow downhill into Santa Clarita, said Mayor Howard P. (Buck) McKeon.
But Bernson said if that was the case, the facility would not be built.
"All environmental criteria for landfills will have to be met," he said.
LAFCO also denied a request Wednesday by Los Angeles to include Sunshine Canyon, where the city now dumps its garbage, and portions of adjacent East Canyon in its sphere of influence.
Sunshine Canyon operators want to expand that landfill to meet Los Angeles' needs, but Bernson said the Los Angeles City Council will take steps to revoke the facility's permit March 14.
"We want them closed," he said. "Obviously, expanding Sunshine Canyon is not the answer. There are homes within 1,600 feet of that landfill. Elsmere Canyon is in a remote area. It's not near anything."
The Los Angeles City Council adopted its sphere-of-influence request over Elsmere, Sunshine and portions of East Canyon on Dec. 8, a week before Santa Clarita was incorporated. Bernson said Los Angeles officials had heard reports that Santa Clarita intended to annex the area immediately.
On Dec. 19, four days after the city incorporated, the Santa Clarita City Council voted to compete with its giant neighbor over control of the site. Santa Clarita's request did not include the Sunshine and East Canyon areas.
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 that area.