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Sanitation Officials Drop Bid for Canyon Landfills

August 20, 1992|MYRON LEVIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A long-awaited environmental report on three proposed landfill sites in the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountains will not be issued because parkland acquisitions have made the report academic, sanitation officials said.

The shelving of the report marks sanitation officials' surrender in a battle with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for control of undeveloped canyons.

The report, issued in draft form by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts and the county Department of Public Works in August 1990, identified three sites as being suitable for major public landfills: Blind Canyon in the hills above Chatsworth; Towsley Canyon in the Santa Clarita Valley, and three canyons in the Santa Monicas--Mission, Sullivan and Rustic--that are considered a single potential landfill site.

Public hearings were held, and the sanitation districts were expected to make revisions and issue a final report.

In the meantime, the conservancy, a state parks agency, won an intense competition with the districts for control of access to the canyons, which the conservancy wants to preserve as mountain parks.

At Blind Canyon, the conservancy's purchase of a 145-acre parcel cut deeply into the capacity of a potential dump. Strategic acquisitions at Towsley Canyon also limited the potential size of any landfill there.

The Mission-Sullivan-Rustic site, situated above Brentwood just west of the San Diego Freeway, remains in the hands of the county and the sanitation districts. They have agreed to give up on a landfill there if one is developed at Elsmere Canyon, east of the city of Santa Clarita. Separately, the county and U.S. Forest Service are conducting environmental studies on the Elsmere site.

Asked why the final environmental impact report had been shelved, sanitation districts spokesman Joe Haworth said its conclusions had been rendered moot.

"Why certify an EIR that could end up controversial . . . when it's not citing anything?" he asked.

Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy, said he was surprised and pleased that the districts are backing off. "If that's what they're saying, that's precisely what we intended to do," he said. "The intent was . . . to save the canyons."

But he said the conservancy wasn't solely responsible, since trash volumes have leveled off and even declined. "Clearly, the demand for landfills is not as great as it was in 1988 when they started the process," Edmiston said.

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