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Anti-Landfill Group Loses Legal Battle

Trash: Judge rules L.A. City Council's vote to expand Sunshine Canyon facility was proper.


A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by opponents of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill expansion, rejecting claims that the Los Angeles City Council did not adequately consider all of the negative impacts of permitting the dump to grow into Granada Hills, officials said Monday.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs rebuffed the North Valley Coalition of Concerned Citizens, finding that the city's environmental impact report "properly focused on new information and/or changes in the landfill project."

Janavs ruled that the city did a site-specific study of air quality at Van Gogh Elementary School, located one mile from the dump, and found it to be "below the level of significance" set by a state air resources agency.

"We are extremely pleased with the court's finding that the landfill expansion complies with state and local law," said Dave Edwards, general manager of Sunshine Canyon. "This means we can move forward with the project, which is essential to satisfy Los Angeles' long-term waste disposal needs."

Landfill operator Browning-Ferris Industries will be allowed to accept 55 million tons of trash on 194 acres during the next 26 years.

The judge also rejected claims that the city did not sufficiently consider alternatives to dumping Los Angeles' trash in an expanded Sunshine Canyon Landfill.

The city explored seven alternatives, including trucking the city's trash to remote landfills in Orange and Riverside counties.

Wayde Hunter, president of the coalition, said the ruling will probably be appealed.

"Obviously, the judge did not understand the case," Hunter said in a statement.

The judge issued the eight-page ruling Friday based on a one-day trial held on Nov. 15, at which attorneys for BFI and the city of Los Angeles defended the council vote expanding the landfill to 494 acres in the city of Los Angeles.

Edwards promised to continue working with coalition members "to ensure that the landfill is operated in an environmentally responsible manner."

The battle over Sunshine Canyon has been one of the most expensive in the city, with BFI spending more than $594,000 to lobby City Hall on the project.

The City Council voted 8 to 7 to permit BFI to expand the dump from the county unincorporated area north of Los Angeles back into an area of Granada Hills that the operator had used several years ago.

Los Angeles officials cited the need for a place to dump Los Angeles' trash after the closure of the Lopez Canyon Landfill a few years ago.

Mary Edwards, a leader of the coalition, said the group has raised almost $20,000 for its legal battle and has enough still for an appeal.

"We are disappointed," she said. "We've been beaten up so many times you come to expect it. But we are tenacious. We will hang in there. We will be like bulldogs at their ankle. What they are doing is just wrong."

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