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Civic Officials, Trash Haulers Meet Over Waste Policy

April 25, 1997|GREG SANDOVAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WESTWOOD — It was a sort of Garbage Peace Summit.

Representatives of Los Angeles County and several cities--including Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita and Santa Monica--gathered to discuss garbage with executives of recycling companies, trash haulers and environmental groups.

The two-day meeting, designed to hash out the best ways to manage waste in the 21st century, ended Thursday at UCLA, which hosted the meetings.

The participants delved into topics such as gassification, rail hauling and recycling, as well as controversial issues like landfill regulation.

"This is the first time this approach has been used to bring together the important players in this broad field," said Eugene Grigsby, professor of urban planning and director of UCLA's Advanced Policy Institute.

With the state requiring city and county governments to reduce the waste they bury in landfills by half by 2000, finding alternative methods for dealing with garbage has become a priority.

Added to this are the sharp debates and stiff opposition that county officials often face when they propose new dumps. Los Angeles County has historically relied on landfills to dispose of its trash, which accounts for more than half the waste created in Southern California.

County planners and landfill proponents often describe the mind-set of residents who continually oppose landfills as "NIMBY," for "Not In My Backyard."

"No city wants a dump," said Santa Clarita City Manager George Caravalho. "We used to fight to prevent it from landing in our city and then agree to a landfill in somebody else's city. These meetings can help come up with a plan to stop that cycle."

The city of Santa Clarita, one of the event's sponsors, has been at the forefront of landfill controversies in recent years, including the battle over plans to put a dump in Elsmere Canyon.

"There is a loud public consensus that says, 'We don't want to address a lack of [landfill] capacity by building more,' " said Lynne Plambeck, vice president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, or SCOPE. "We have to look at other avenues, and this was a way of looking at those avenues."

A 10-page executive summary and a 10-minute video covering the meeting's findings will be sent to all the participants and all city governments in Los Angeles County.

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