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COUNCIL IS TALKING TRASH BFI MAY TRADE ELSMERE SITE FOR EXCLUSIVE HAULING RIGHTS.

Byline: Heather MacDonald Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - While the city's two trash haulers have failed to reach an agreement on new contracts, a third company has stepped forward with an offer that might be difficult for the city to turn down.

In exchange for the city's trash franchise agreement, Browning Ferris Inc. would consider donating Elsmere Canyon - where an outpouring of community opposition blocked a proposed landfill six years ago - to the city as open space.

The City Council is slated to decide Tuesday whether to continue negotiating with Waste Management Inc. and Atlas Disposal Co., or to begin accepting bids for the contracts.

``The commercial rates are the sticking point, and we haven't been able to get anywhere with them,'' said Jeffrey Lambert, the director of planning and building services. ``It's now up to the council.''

Waste Management Inc., which owns Santa Clarita Disposal and Blue Barrel Disposal, controls a majority of the commercial trash-hauling business in Santa Clarita.

Atlas Disposal Co., which owns Republic Services Inc., wants the new agreement to allow it to compete with Waste Management for those large customers.

Both companies currently haul bottles, newspapers and cardboard to local recycling plants for residential customers, and trash to local landfills.

The City Council reviews the contracts every year, usually automatically extending the five-year franchise agreement between the city and the hauler.

If the council takes no action, the current agreements will remain in place.

At that same meeting, officials from BFI will ask the city to consider their bid for the contracts.

The company would consider donating Elsmere Canyon to the city for open space in exchange for the city's trash franchise agreement, said Keith Hester, BFI's general manager of Los Angeles operations.

``We've been thinking about this for the last 12 months, but now time is short, because the council has to make a decision,'' said Hester.

Hester said he had an informal meeting with Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilman Cameron Smyth at City Hall several weeks ago.

The company might hold on to a small part of the canyon, and build a golf course there, Hester said.

Hester also said he believes the company can offer trash hauling at reduced rates.

``We think that we can reduce rates up to 20 percent, and save some folks some money,'' Hester said.

BFI also owns the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, south of the city limits.

Six years ago, opposition from residents and city officials blocked plans to build a massive landfill in Elsmere Canyon.

Federal legislation derailed the project by prohibiting dumps in the national forests. However, not all of the canyon is in the forest, and city officials have long feared that the possibility of a dump could materialize once again.

The mayor has tagged the preservation of open space as one of her highest priorities during her term.

The new agreement is also slated to include roll-off services for the first time, which would allow only the city's franchisees to set up trash bins at construction sites and special events.

``We expect that the companies who would lose that business aren't going to be too pleased with the agreement, although we think it makes the most sense to fold it into the franchise and eliminate the competition,'' Lambert said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 7, 2001
Words:544
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