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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: The Superior Alternative | 02-20-2017
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Commentary by Steve Lee
| Monday, Feb 20, 2017

The hearing on the final environmental impact report for the expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill will be held Wednesday, March 1, at Rancho Pico High School, 26250 Valencia Blvd., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Many years have passed since the process started. The first draft EIR was expected to be quickly passed, except for one small glitch. The residents of Val Verde protested. They held a town meeting and voted unanimously against the expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

Earlier the same day, flyers were passed out by John Musella (a contractor for the landfill and a registered lobbyist) with the topic sentence: “Don’t Let Them Take Your Money.” The kicker was, the flyer appeared to look like it came from Val Verde’s Civic Association. The town was so upset that on that night, they filled Val Verde Park’s only meeting building.

Since then, it has been a long and hard fight. Val Verde residents would like to hold the landfill accountable to the original contract made 20 years ago. The parties involved in the negotiations 20 years ago included the landfill owner, the county, and the Val Verde Civic Association. It would be the last expansion that Val Verde would have to endure.

Houses were sold in Val Verde with that same promise. “It is an iron-clad contract,” some Realtors would tell people buying houses in Val Verde.

Here is the glitch: Nothing is iron clad when the county is paid by the landfill.

The county is the one that must ensure the landfill closes, but that means a big loss of money for the county.

Since the first DEIR was written, many tactics have been tried to shut up Val Verde residents. A paper out of Stevenson Ranch has called for the arrest of those who complain about the stench in Val Verde. The reason they should be arrested is because they must be lying. The paper has also blamed the stench on septic tanks. Val Verde residents have been called bullies and compared to ISIS terrorists. The writer even posited that he drove through Val Verde and windows were open, so the townspeople must be liars. Believe me, on stinky days, windows are closed, and Val Verde residents become imprisoned in their houses waiting for the smells to pass.

Years ago, Castaic was looking for a new high school site. The first location they considered was Val Verde, but it was quickly eliminated. The same writer out of Stevenson Ranch wrote that they made an easy choice not to have the high school in plumes of stench from the dump. The dump does not smell now? Well, it really does, unless you are the paper in Stevenson Ranch, which is now majorly funded by the landfill.

At the last DEIR hearing, one individual called for Val Verde to have their septic tanks investigated. He stated homes should be taken away from anyone who does not have a house on at least two acres. It stands to reason if residents smell rotting garbage odors, it must be septic, not the 23 million tons of trash 800 feet from the first house in Val Verde. Of course, that same person tells Live Oak residents that sewers are to blame for the landfill smells that are carried on the winds.

Some in Val Verde have quit calling in smells to any authorities. They believe the inspections and threats that quickly followed their calls were related to their calling in the odor complaints. Some feel that they are just insulted by the landfill when they come out and walk up to a flower saying that the flower is the stench they are smelling. The truth is, they have been beaten down.

One resident overheard a county official demanding that someone from Animal Control be sent out to the farmer closest to the landfill. The thinking was that this farm must be the cause of the rotting trash smells. Members of the town were there to meet Animal Control when they showed up. The Animal Control officers did smell stench, as everyone present could. They even called SCAQMD in the presence of the town residents. The two officers stated that the strong odors were NOT from the farm, but from the landfill.

Many Val Verde residents believe that the landfill is affecting their health. Asthma attacks are frequent, along with other health problems. The house with the cancer marker in the first DEIR actually got cancer, so markers have been moved on the map.

The DEIR states that particulate matter of 2.5 and 10 will exceed health standards for the lifetime of the landfill. It has already exceeded up to this point. If residents are smelling the landfill, then they are also inhaling particulate matter and gases from the landfill. The county has been asked numerous times to do a door-to-door health survey on all the residents – just to be ignored.

The landfill hired a scientist to come out and check for smells. Those were some nice days in Val Verde. The landfill reps have admitted they knew when all testing would be done. It would be easy to figure out, on the days they tested, the landfill was extra careful to control its odors. Their scientist, however, did detect smells. The scientist concluded that Val Verde would get the odors from 6 percent to 9 percent of the day. Not all at once, but in small to large doses during the entire 24 hours as the wind shifted. At 6 percent, that would be 1 hour and 26 minutes a day, 37.8 hours a month, 453.6 hours a year.

In the final EIR are letters of endorsement. Most the letters are from those who have financial gain if the landfill remains open here. Many of the letters are from people and businesses that have been given donations from the landfill. Why they have submitted letters would make sense. What does not make sense are about 40 cards that were signed by residents of Val Verde. Well, it does make sense if you know the story. One of the mitigations the landfill must provide to Val Verde residents is four days a year of free drop-off dump service. On that day, those who spoke limited English were told they must sign cards to enter. They were concerned because in the past, they had never signed cards to dump on those days. The residents were informed it was a new procedure. The cards were actually endorsements for the landfill, written in English. Deceptive? Yes, but that is how it works when dealing with the landfill.

Is it possible that those who work at the landfill have become nose-blind to the odors? When the landfill got a citation from the SCAQMD for the stagnant odors in Val Verde, they had a reply: “Our operators did not notice the strong odors coming from the green waste.” If not for the citation, Val Verde residents would just be called liars again.

It is no small feat to get SCAQMD to come out. Most of the time Val Verde residents wait for hours, and when they show up, they cannot smell anything, as the wind has shifted. Many times SCAQMD doesn’t make it out to Val Verde at all.

The Val Verde Community Advisory Committee hired a scientist to come in and do their own testing. On the day the scientist was to show up, the landfill had hired him away from the VVCAC. Miraculously, a new scientist appeared. Some board members were not so keen on hiring him, but the sitting president insisted he was the right choice. Of course, the sitting president has a letter endorsing the landfill on file. The new scientist found this landfill to be amazing. He also informed the landfill of all days he would be testing. The new scientist informed Val Verde residents that all water wells were clean. When asked how he came to that conclusion, he responded that he interviewed the landfill. The last well reports state that wells 8, 16, 18 and 20 exceeded control limits.

It comes down to this. Promises should be kept, and the landfill should be closed down once and for all. Val Verde, along with all of the Santa Clarita Valley, deserves cleaner air. Thirty more years of business as usual should not be allowed. The DEIR listed many alternatives. All alternatives except for one stated the landfill would exceed many health standards for years to come. Only one standard that they listed would be the “superior alternative.” The superior alternative would make the air cleaner for all of Santa Clarita.

“18.5 Environmentally Superior Alternative:

“From among the alternatives evaluated, CEQA requires that a Draft EIR identify the environmentally superior alternative. Based on the discussion of the various alternatives, the environmentally superior alternative is Alternative A, the No Project Alternative. Under the No Project Alternative, the landfill operation would continue according to existing conditions only until July 31, 2017. While Alternative A could shift many of the daily operation impacts from one facility to another, the No Project Alternative involves no construction and would not directly involve any development or the disturbance of resources at CCL, unlike Alternatives B and C. Therefore, the No Project Alternative would be the Environmentally Superior Alternative, although it would not achieve the Project objectives.”

Quoted directly from the Draft EIR.

You might ask what you can do as an ordinary citizen, not involved in the fight, but concerned about air quality in your valley. You can call, write and e-mail. Say, “I oppose the Chiquita Canyon Landfill Expansion.”

Reference: Project #R2004-00559-(5); Conditional Use Permit #2004-00042 See the Notice of Public Hearing (English and Spanish) at http://bit.ly/2lFiZ2K.

 

Five Los Angeles County Supervisors

Kathryn Barger (213) 974-5555

Janice Hahn (213) 974-4444

Sheila Kuehl (213) 974-3333

Mark Ridley-Thomas (213) 974-2222

Hilda L. Solis (213) 974-4111

Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration

500 W. Temple Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (planning.lacounty.gov)

(213) 974-6443

320 West Temple Street, 13th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90012

zoningldcc@planning.lacounty.gov

rclaghorn@planning.lacounty.gov

rglaser@planning.lacounty.gov

ogomez@planning.lacounty.gov

 

Steve Lee is an asthmatic resident of Val Verde.

Comment On This Story
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9 Comments

  1. Caroline Trujillo says:

    Thursday is March 2nd, which date is it?

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks Steve for explaining how so called liberal leaders in the county, and state, really take care of the people…feel the love people?
    Our leaders are simple thieves. Ridley is the worst of these…by a large margin.

  3. Steve says:

    Sorry it is Wednesday March 1st.

  4. Susie Evans says:

    The hearing on the final environmental impact report for the expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill will be held Thursday, March 1, at Rancho Pico Jr. High School, 26250 Valencia Blvd., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is an alternative, Mesquite Landfill, paid for by LA County taxes!

  5. Tanya says:

    Carolyn, it is Wednesday, March 1st.

  6. Tanya says:

    SCVTV, could you please change the word “Thursday” to “Wednesday” in the fourth line of the article? Thank you. Tanya

  7. Susie Evans says:

    YES PLEASE CORRECT MY MISTAKE!!!!

  8. Richard Hood says:

    Called or emailed them all – took 5 minutes. Good job Steve.

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