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2 Hearings to Focus on Sunshine Canyon

Residents are invited to comment today on plans to expand the landfill into Granada Hills.

June 18, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

San Fernando Valley residents will have an opportunity to comment on plans to expand the Sunshine Canyon Landfill at two public hearings today.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board will discuss requirements for a water permit that landfill operator Browning-Ferris Industries needs to proceed with the expansion, which is opposed by many nearby residents.

The goal at the meetings "is to make our decision-making process as transparent as possible so people will understand the decision we reach," said board spokesman Stephen Cain.

BFI wants to expand landfill operations, which take place on county property, into the Granada Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The increased operations would take place on city property between O'Melveny Park and San Fernando Road. Opponents have argued that the landfill is too close to schools, neighborhoods and water supplies in the northern San Fernando Valley. They have also said it poses environmental and health risks.

The Los Angeles City Council approved expansion of Sunshine Canyon in 1999. A coalition of concerned Valley citizens sued the city in an attempt to overturn the decision, but a judge dismissed the suit in 2000.

Sunshine Canyon became a campaign issue during the 2001 Los Angeles mayoral race. Then-City Atty. James K. Hahn called for tight monitoring of the expansion, but has since tried to block the project all together.

After the California Integrated Waste Management Board granted BFI a solid-waste permit last month, Hahn's office said it would try blocking other permits. Hahn has said he will not renew the city's contract with BFI when it expires in 2006.

The city side of the landfill, which had been running for more than 40 years, closed in 1991 when its city permit expired. But the landfill reopened on county territory in 1996.

The water permit is one of several that BFI needs to expand the landfill. Today's hearings will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Granada Pavilion, 11128 Balboa Blvd. in Granada Hills.

The regional water board plans to vote on the permit in July.

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