OFFICIALS MOBILIZE VS. LANDFILL EXPANSION.
With the proposed expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill on hold, Los Angeles officials moved Tuesday to take steps to permanently keep it from reopening in Granada Hills.
``I want to see us become a landfill-free city,'' Mayor James Hahn said at a City Hall news conference. ``We are looking at a way to find alternatives to reopening Sunshine Canyon.''
Hahn last week temporarily blocked approval of a key permit for Browning Ferris Industries by saying its application was incomplete and ordering it rejected.
``This gives us an opportunity to look at alternatives,'' said Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area and has been fighting the landfill's reopening. ``We want to look at all alternatives, whether it's a trash-to-energy plant or the long haul of this to areas outside the city.''
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills, said he will be asking both the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to review the expansion plans to determine their impact on federal highways and the local water supply.
``I oppose the expansion because of the adverse impact it has on San Fernando Valley communities, San Fernando Valley transportation and our environment,'' Sherman said.
City Council President Alex Padilla, Councilman Dennis Zine and Councilwoman-elect Wendy Greuel backed Bernson's effort, providing a united Valley stand.
BFI spokesman Arnie Berghoff disputed the need for any federal studies and insisted that the firm planned to correct what he called a technical deficiency in its application so it could expand from county land into the city limits as soon as possible.
``This has been studied and studied,'' Berghoff said. ``We have a complete environmental impact report that looks at all these things.''
Also, he said, the city has a contract with BFI to use Sunshine Canyon to dump its trash with other alternatives either unrealistic or too expensive.
``If the city wants to take its trash somewhere else, they are going to face much higher costs,'' Berghoff said.
Bernson, however, said the environmental study needs to be updated to take into consideration Sunshine Canyon's proximity to an elementary school and two reservoirs, and he questioned the extra costs.
``A lot of cities have gone to trash-to-energy programs and it could end up with us saving money,'' Bernson said. ``We spend something like $50 million a year on recycling when we could take all our trash and generate energy.''
Also, he said, it might be time for the city to study having a trash collection fee if it meant keeping landfills out of the city.
``We are the only major city that doesn't have a trash collection fee,'' Bernson said. ``We charge for cans for recycling, but that's it.''
Hahn said he has not considered such an option and that was part of the reason he wanted a full study as well as seeking to close all landfills.
``Several years ago, I took a helicopter tour of the county and its landfills and it's an ugly sight,'' Hahn said. ``We can't just keep filling canyons with our trash.
``Here, we're talking about 12,000 tons of trash a day - the most of any landfill in the nation. We can't allow that.''
The announcement was praised by representatives of the North Valley Coalition that has been actively opposing the landfill for years.
``When I hear someone say this is just NIMBYism, I want to say to them, we've had this for 36 years. How would you like that?'' said Kim Thompson, vice president of the group.
Wayde Hunter, coalition president, said he was grateful the city was taking steps to block the reopening.
BFI plans call for opening a 451-acre facility that could eventually take in 90 million tons of trash to operate adjacent to a facility it runs in county land. The county portion is expected to be filled within four years, Berghoff said.
Councilman Hal Bernson speaks Tuesday at City Hall about effo rts to block Sunshine Canyon landfill expansion.
Tina Burch/Staff Photographer