With no long-term solution in sight for Los Angeles' trash problems, a City Council committee voted Tuesday to renew an option to haul trash to the Sunshine Canyon landfill above Granada Hills for five more years.
Most of the 940,000 tons of trash collected in Los Angeles each year is dumped at Sunshine Canyon. The option allows the city to sign a new contract to take garbage to the dump from mid-2006 until mid-2011.
The council's budget and finance committee voted 3 to 1 to pick up the option, with Councilman Greig Smith, who represents Granada Hills, the dissenting vote.
Under its contract with the landfill's owner, Browning-Ferris Industries, a subsidiary of Allied Waste Industries Inc., the city had until June 30 to renew the option or risk having to renegotiate the agreement, possibly at higher rates.
Smith argued that the city's contract with Browning-Ferris was deeply flawed and that the city should have considered alternatives that would have steered trash elsewhere.
"I'm amazed the city signed this [contract] in the first place," said Smith, who intends to unveil a plan Thursday to end the use of landfills in Los Angeles.
Officials from the city attorney's office and the Bureau of Sanitation disputed some of Smith's assertions, most notably that the city might be paying too much for taking garbage to Sunshine Canyon.
The vast landfill has long been a sore point for San Fernando Valley residents, who have complained that it pollutes air and water.
The city had been in talks with another company, Waste Management, to take its trash to landfills in the Antelope Valley and in Riverside County. But the firm withdrew its proposal in May, citing concerns over the city's contracting process.