Despite lacking a plausible alternative for disposing of more than 900,000 tons of trash each year, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday did not pass a contract option to continue dumping garbage at the Sunshine Canyon landfill above Granada Hills.
The council wanted one more day to try to renegotiate aspects of its agreement with Browning-Ferris Industries, the landfill's owner, to dump trash there from July 1, 2006, until mid-2011. A vote on the option is scheduled for today; it will probably pass, although the vote may be close.
The city has until Thursday to sign the option. If it doesn't, Browning-Ferris can begin negotiating with other cities to accept their trash.
Nine longtime anti-Sunshine Canyon activists from Granada Hills were in council chambers Tuesday when four members of the council's San Fernando Valley contingent -- Greig Smith, Alex Padilla, Wendy Greuel and Dennis Zine -- introduced a motion asking for another day of negotiations.
It passed 11-2, with Bernard C. Parks and Cindy Miscikowski dissenting. Two members were absent.
Sunshine Canyon has leverage over the city because there is diminishing landfill capacity in the area. The city's leverage is that it produces more trash than any other municipality in the area, which makes it a good customer for landfill owners.
Miscikowski and Parks warned that the city was not in a good negotiating position. Miscikowski said the council was playing "brinksmanship" with Browning-Ferris, and the city risked having nowhere to take its trash next year or paying much more for someone to take it.
Greg Loughnane, a district manager for Browning-Ferris, said the landfill has little incentive to renegotiate the contract with the city at the last moment. "There are 87 other cities in the county, and we will market to anybody who has an interest," he said.