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McKeon Plans Hearing on Land Swap : Elsmere Canyon: GOP congressmen will hear testimony in an effort to garner opposition to the proposed landfill. The developer isn't invited.


A task force of Republican members of Congress will hold a hearing Friday on the proposed land swap between the U. S. Forest Service and a landfill developer that would pave the way for a dump in Elsmere Canyon.

Rep. Howard (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) arranged the hearing of California representatives in an effort to garner opposition to the land exchange, and consequently block the landfill.

"We're looking at the aspect of should you take forest land and turn it into landfills," said McKeon, who suggested that he would look into "some legislation to require the Forest Service to not exchange land for use as a landfill."

Any legislation would require cooperation from Democrats, said McKeon, who hopes to win the backing of Vice President Al Gore. It is unclear whether Los Angeles representatives would support such a bill. Powerful Democrat Howard Berman (D-Panorama City) last year had floated the idea of legislating the land exchange in an attempt to make the dump more environmentally sensitive.

Reps. John Doolittle (R-Roseville), Duncan Hunter (R-Coronado) and Carlos Moorhead (R-Glendale) are on the task force holding the hearing, which will include speakers from Los Angeles County, Santa Clarita, the U. S. Forest Service and community members.

The developer of the proposed landfill, BKK Corp., was intentionally left off the guest list, McKeon said, "because of the financial stake" that the firm has in the project.

BKK President Ken Kazarian said he was disappointed at not being invited and called the hearing, which will be preceded by a helicopter tour of the dump site, a "publicity stunt."

"I'm sorry that we weren't invited," said Kazarian, who will send a letter to McKeon asking that he be allowed to testify. "But it's their show so they can do it any way they want. It won't accomplish what they hope it will."

Kazarian said other groups being asked to testify have as much at stake in the land swap as BKK.

Santa Clarita, which borders the proposed dump area, has dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars to wage a campaign against the project, while the county has been supportive of the landfill. The dump would accept 190 million tons of trash from throughout the county.

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