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Landfill Fights Curbs on Expansion

September 02, 1993|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

HACIENDA HEIGHTS — Puente Hills Landfill operators plan to lobby Gov. Pete Wilson hard to veto a bill approved by the Legislature this week that would put more green space between residents and an expanded dump.

Operators say the measure would cost county residents millions of dollars and would override local authority.

"It's bad legislation," said Stephen Maguin, the county Sanitation Districts' chief of solid waste. "It overrides local decision-making made following hundreds of hours of hearings and extensive environmental study. . . . We're going to seek a veto."

The districts, a grouping of representatives from many of the county's cities, got the go-ahead in July from the County Board of Supervisors to expand the dump, which is the nation's second-largest landfill. It is just west of Hacienda Heights, extending almost to Whittier, and south of Turnbull Canyon.

Under the expansion, landfill operators can move east into canyons within 1,750 feet of Hacienda Heights homes and schools and continue operations to the year 2003. The landfill was scheduled to close Nov. 1 when its operating permit expired.

However, under the bill authored by Assemblywomen Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) that reached the governor's office Monday, no landfill operations may exist at Puente Hills closer than 2,000 feet from residences.

"Expansion of this landfill means San Gabriel Valley's continued exposure to air pollution, traffic congestion and probable toxins in the ground water," said Solis, in explaining the need for more space between the landfill and residences.

Her bill represents government responding to community demands, namely those of Hacienda Heights homeowners, she said.

"I would strongly recommend the governor consider we got bipartisan support in the Legislature and a large number of Republicans live in the area," she said.

But Maguin disputed the benefits Solis said her bill will bring. Instead, the legislation would increase taxpayer costs for dumping and undermine local government control of land use, he said.

The county held half a dozen public hearings, and the landfill owner conducted an extensive environmental study of the expansion plan before the supervisors reached their decision, he said.

Meanwhile, Solis' buffer zone will reduce the capacity at Puente Hills--the cheapest landfill in the county--forcing cities to pay to dump at more expensive landfills, Maguin said. "It's the citizens of L.A. County who will pay for this bill. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars," he said.

But Jeffrey Yann, president of Hacienda Heights Home Improvement Assn., said homeowners will start a letter campaign urging Wilson to sign the bill.

He said that without the bill, landfill operators will be creating dust and noise in the middle of the afternoon 1,750 feet from a local elementary school.

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