State solid waste officials threatened Friday to fine the city of Los Angeles $1,000 a day unless operations are cut back immediately at the city's Lopez Canyon Landfill.
The California Waste Management Board's orders escalated the growing conflict with the city over violations at the landfill. City officials said they will fight the order in court Monday.
If the city were to abide by the order to restrict the amount of dumping daily and reduce the long-term capacity of the landfill, the dump would be filled and shut down in about a year, heightening Los Angeles' garbage crisis, said Edward J. Avila, president of the city Board of Public Works. The dump, in the northeast San Fernando Valley community of Lake View Terrace, receives two-thirds of the city's household trash.
"We will go to court to protect Lopez Canyon Landfill," Avila said. "What's incredible is that the state has chosen to attack the city's only landfill and is being totally unreasonable."
Deputy City Atty. Christopher M. Westoff said he will seek a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court to challenge the state's order. State officials said they intend to counter with a request for the court to force Los Angeles to abide by the rules.
Reduce Garbage Intake
The state's action was spurred by Los Angeles County's refusal to carry out earlier state orders to reduce garbage intake at the landfill and limit the area in which trash can be dumped. The county Department of Health Services enforces state laws at Lopez Canyon, but refused to impose the limits because they would force the city to use county landfills, which are also filling rapidly.
The central issue is whether Lopez Canyon is bound by a restrictive 1978 state permit that limits garbage intake to 400 trucks a day, caps the height of the landfill at 1,725 feet and confines dumping to 140 acres of the 392-acre site. The state says the old permit is valid.
The city, however, says a less-stringent 1983 engineering report filed with the state changed the permit. That report permitted 600 trucks a day, a height of 1,740 feet and a bigger dumping area.
The dump is accepting about 4,000 tons of trash daily, but state orders would reduce that to about 3,100 tons.
'State Is Ultimately Responsible'
In refusing to enforce the state orders, the county allowed city officials to operate under the 1983 permit as long as they applied to the state for a new one.
"We had hoped the county would enforce the orders," said Chris Peck, spokesman for the California Waste Management Board. "Our position is that the state is ultimately responsible for enforcing the permit."
The city filed suit last month to settle the dispute. A Sept. 26 hearing date had been set.
"The bottom line is the state is acting in bad faith because this matter is already before the court," Westoff said, adding that he believes the city is on firm legal ground because they are abiding by the county order and have applied for a new permit.
Lake View Terrace residents, who have long complained of noise, odors and heavy truck traffic in their hillside neighborhoods, expressed anger with the city.
"It is a waste of energy and taxpayers' money for the city to fight this," said Dennis Ghiatis of the Kagel Canyon Civic Assn. "The time and money can be better spent solving the problems."