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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

For Santa Clarita, Mine Would Be a Nightmare Neighbor

October 15, 2000|JO ANNE DARCY | Jo Anne Darcy is mayor of Santa Clarita

Some neighbors are noisy and polluting, andthose around them must simply grin and bear it. Others are outright dangerous.

In northern Los Angeles County, the Santa Clarita Valley faces the possibility of a project that is all three.

The Transit Mixed Concrete Co. would mine 83 million tons of gravel on a 480-acre site in Soledad Canyon, just east of the Santa Clarita city limits.

Transit Mixed Concrete representatives say opponents "misunderstand" the environmental impacts. But it is very hard to misunderstand when the proposal would:

* Withdraw massive amounts of ground water (enough for a small community every year) and jeopardize water availability for current residents.

* Emit huge amounts of dust into the air, damaging the health of children and individuals with breathing problems.

* Place one six-axle truck onto our already overcrowded roadways every minute, 24-hours a day.

As badly as we need schools in Santa Clarita, a local school district has said it will pull its plans for a new elementary school, scheduled to be built close to the proposed site, if the plan is approved.

For these reasons and more, every Santa Clarita Valley school district, water company, government agency, town council and neighboring homeowner group has joined together in opposition to this proposal. The real threat to children's health, a predictable decline in area home values and the use of a great deal of precious ground water (many residents are dependent on their wells) have prompted them to band together to fight this mega-mining and concrete processing plant.

Southdown Corp., the multinational parent company of Transit Mixed Concrete, came into town a few months ago, claiming a dozen years of preliminary work on the proposal. Yet the company has kept its activity under the radar screen of civic, government and community leaders, many of whom have never heard a word about the project.

*

Southdown has used outdated environmental studies, insufficient data and misrepresentations to help make its case that there is a lack of aggregate materials available and that there will be no harmful impacts to the environment. The company claims that halting this project would slow down development and increase housing prices--a scare tactic with no validity.

The federal Bureau of Land Management in August approved the project. Ironically and irresponsibly, the decision was made before completion of the environmental impact report.

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) is joined by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the Santa Clarita City Council, the Agua Dulce and Acton town councils and every school district, water agency and environmental interest group in the region in appealing the bureau's decision.

A few more scary statistics about this proposed mega-mining project: Nearly 10,000 homes are within a five-mile radius of the project; mining, blasting and aggregate processing would occur six days a week, 16 hours a day for 20 years. Dust and dirt would blow downwind to surrounding homes and schools; excavation would lower the ridgeline by 200 feet and the discharge of water from mining would pollute the Santa Clara River--Southern California's only undammed, free-flowing river--and surrounding natural areas.

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission disliked the project and voted against it 5 to 0. Southdown's appeal is scheduled for public hearing before the Board of Supervisors at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 24 at 500 W. Temple Street in Los Angeles. Please attend and make your voice heard.

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