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Trash a Bone of Contention in Secession Fight

Hahn says Valley would send its refuse to South- Central L.A. transfer station. Supporters of breakup accuse mayor of using scare tactics.

October 30, 2002|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

With the election one week away, the debate over San Fernando Valley secession turned Tuesday to trash talk, literally and figuratively.

While secession leaders accused the other side of ethical lapses, Mayor James K. Hahn said a breakup could lead to creation of a trash transfer station in South-Central Los Angeles to handle Valley refuse.

Hahn also announced that he opposes plans to expand Bradley Landfill in Sun Valley, which has become a hot-button issue for northeast Valley residents.

"When people start talking about bringing trash to your neighborhood and people start saying, 'We're going to take money away from the city treasury,' which is going to hurt our ability to provide services to all of you, it is going to affect you," Hahn said during a campaign appearance at Central Avenue Jazz Park in South-Central. "It is your business."

Hahn said a provision of the environmental impact report on Valley cityhood, approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission, raised the possibility that the Valley could truck its trash to central Los Angeles, where it would be placed on trains for hauling to remote desert landfills.

"The new Valley city shall pursue the development of a transfer station in the central Los Angeles area that will allow the new Valley city access to desert rail-haul disposal facilities," the LAFCO report says.

Secession leader Carlos Ferreyra said the LAFCO language only represented an option and the Valley would never try to put a trash transfer station in a central Los Angeles neighborhood.

"There is no need to build it there," Ferreyra said. He said a Valley city could instead transfer excess trash to rail cars in an industrial area of the port.

Ferreyra accused Hahn of misleading South-Central residents. "It just goes along with his tactic all along to scare the public," he said.

At the same South-Central event, Hahn also announced his opposition to a request by Waste Management Corp. to raise the height of the Bradley Landfill in Sun Valley by 43 feet.

"We don't need a trash mountain there that is four stories high," Hahn said.

Secessionists have long sought to close that landfill and others in the Valley.

Also Tuesday, Ferreyra and other secession proponents questioned the propriety of a $5,000 campaign contribution to the anti-secession side from the Ferraro Officeholder Committee, a political account maintained by former City Council President John Ferraro until his death last year.

"It's unethical," said Ferreyra. "The poor man is dead. We don't know what side he would have taken."

Ferraro was an outspoken opponent of secession, but it was unclear who authorized dipping into the account to contribute to an anti-secession campaign committee set up by Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge.

LaBonge, a former aide to Ferraro, said the decision was made by another former Ferraro aide, Pat Gobler, who now controls the fund. "John would want to help," he said.

Ethics Commission Executive Director LeeAnn Pelham said there is no prohibition on such contributions.

Meanwhile, Hahn's $5.5-million campaign released a new television ad Tuesday that is more positive than previous anti-secession commercials.

The new ad shows an idyllic montage of couples and families picnicking in city parks, window-shopping on bustling city streets and hiking in the hills in view of the Hollywood sign.

Over the visuals, and with a soft, sentimental piano accompaniment, a narrator says, "We came here from all across America and the world. We grew up here and can never imagine leaving.... We all know that in Los Angeles dreams really do come true. Split apart, who are we? Don't let politics destroy this special place.... "

With little money to counter Hahn's ad blitz, the secessionists stepped up their ground campaigns Tuesday, sending volunteers door to door in the Valley and Hollywood.

Hollywood secession leader Gene La Pietra said Tuesday his campaign is also sending out mailers and working phone banks.

"If you live in Hollywood, you'll see us," La Pietra said.


Times staff writer Kristina Sauerwein contributed to this report.

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