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Plan Includes 'Tournament-Quality' Golf Course : Firm Renews Bid to Turn Sun Valley Gravel Pit Into Dump

November 10, 1988|STEPHANIE CHAVEZ | Times Staff Writer

The head of the firm that owns a Sun Valley gravel pit sought support Wednesday from area businesses to turn the 160-foot-deep hole into a dump, promising them he would eventually build a "tournament-quality" golf course and recreation center there.

Renewing a 10-year-old drive to gain community support to turn the 38-acre Strathern Pit into a landfill for household wastes, Claude D. Van Gorden, president of Los Angeles By-Products Co., pitched his plan to about 20 members of the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Although reaction from chamber members was polite Wednesday, nearby residents oppose the plan, which is expected to become a major neighborhood issue in coming months.

Health Effects Cited

Several chamber members said they were concerned about the health effects of putting a dump near a residential neighborhood, even though hazardous wastes will not be left at the site. Others said the plan would get rid of an unsightly gravel pit.

The Strathern Pit, at Strathern Street and Tujunga Avenue, is across the street from the closed Penrose Pit, which was a landfill until 1985.

In 1979, the city granted Los Angeles By-Products a permit, contingent on state approval, to use the Strathern Pit as a dump. State approval has not been granted because the firm has not satisfied requirements for ground-water protection.

The company is seeking to renew its city permit, which expires early next year. The firm must conduct an environmental impact report before it can renew the permit. The report will be released for public scrutiny in several months.

With public hearings ahead, Van Gorden said, the firm needs to "start up the education process out in the community."

The plan faces an uphill battle, which could take more than 2 years, for city and state approval. Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi and Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda), whose districts include Sun Valley, oppose the dump. They favor filling the pit with inert materials such as construction debris and dirt.

Van Gorden said it would take 20 to 30 years to fill the pit with such materials, which would reduce his company's profit and make it more difficult to build a golf course.

Van Gorden said the city permit requires the company to develop the pit for recreational purposes once it is filled.

7-Year Capacity

Van Gorden said that the hole would be filled in 7 years with household garbage, and the company would make more money to build the recreation center. The center, which he said would be built in about 15 years, would include a clubhouse, tennis courts and community meeting rooms.

He would not say how much money his firm expects to make from the dump.

"Our main goal is to build a tournament-quality golf course, improve surrounding streets and get rid of the auto wrecking shops around the pit," Van Gorden said.

When questioned about the odor from the dump, he said, "I'm not saying there won't be odor." He added that the public improvements on the landfill would "benefit the community in the long run."

Laura Kaller, a Sun Valley commercial real estate agent, said the dump proposal is a quick way to eliminate an "ugly gravel pit. It needs to be filled. It's a waste of good land space."

Thomas Safran, who developed a low-income housing complex near the site and is seeking to build another nearby, said he is concerned about the health effects of a new dump near homes.

He said he also opposes the proposal because lenders refuse to give him a loan to build more housing near a potential dump site.

The 200-member Sun Valley Residents Assn. has yet to take a stand on the proposal, said President Mary Poncin, who attended the chamber meeting. "Something must be done about that pit, we're just not sure what yet," she said.

About a dozen residents who live near the Strathern Pit have written letters opposing the plan to the city. They complained of foul odors from the closed Penrose landfill, which is covered with dirt.

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