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1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Sep 21, 2014

darrylmanzerAs the Dump Smells (continued)…

What if it were Castaic that had the dump to be expanded and Val Verde didn’t? What if Castaic didn’t want the dump to expand and Val Verde just wanted the mitigation fee money?

I can see it now: Val Verde votes 6-4 to take 30 percent of the mitigation money so a dump can expand in Castaic. I wonder how the residents of Castaic and the Castaic Town Council would feel about that.

I know how Castaic felt about folks from outside of Castaic possibly taking money from them during the late-1950s fights over elementary school of district unification. You see, some folks thought it would be a good idea to combine all of the school districts in the SCV. Castaic fought hard to prevent other districts from doing that. It was all about money then. Castaic and Newhall had a lot of revenue from oil and natural gas. Saugus and Sulphur Springs didn’t, and they wanted the money spread around.

A similar condition exists with the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion plans. Only this time, Castaic wants to get some money that Val Verde has – but it turns out Val Verde doesn’t want it. Val Verde residents would rather have health and a neighborhood that smells more like Castaic smells. They are done with the dump.

The four “no” votes were from the Town Council regions nearest the dump. Funny how that works. In the school district unification efforts, most of the “no” votes were from Castaic and Newhall. Only on this matter, it has nothing to do with keeping the money and everything to do with stopping the expansion and shutting down the dump.

Do the folks in Castaic even know all of this is going on? Val Verde folks voted, and they stated strongly they want the expansion to be denied. They don’t want the dump.

I would bet the folks in Castaic don’t want a dump near them. “NIMBY” would be the cry. Well, Val Verde has one in their backyard. They just want it to close in 2019 as promised.

Can you imagine a dump in the canyons near “downtown” Castaic? If Castaic wants some dump mitigation money, then Castaic should take the problems that go with it. I’m sure Val Verde wouldn’t mind giving up the trucks and the smell and the illness. Gladly.

Now how would the Town Council vote? Would Val Verde want a piece of the action, so to speak? Would they want 30 percent of the money even if the dump had no effect on Val Verde at all?

The whole mess is so simple to solve. It wouldn’t be a mess if the folks from Chiquita had been honest in the operation and the request to expand. But they don’t know how to do that.

Chiquita Canyon Landfill knows how to spend lots of money all over the SCV so the company appears to be a good neighbor when in fact it isn’t.

Flier generated by/on behalf of the landfill company and distributed throughout Val Verde. The public saw through the ruse.

Flier generated by/on behalf of the landfill company and distributed throughout Val Verde. The public saw through the ruse.

The little flier Chiquita representatives put out the day of the Val Verde Civic Association meeting last week is a case in point. They didn’t have their own name on it, but it looked as if the VVCA (a nonprofit community group) had issued it. Pure mendacity, I tell you. Just pure mendacity.

That flier was much like the rest of their message (I’m paraphrasing): “Look at all we give to Val Verde and the entire SCV.” “We are so good and support so much (including a few campaigns) that we know you’ll let us expand.” “Maybe for a little more money you’ll keep quiet and let us do it?”

One hundred and twelve citizens of Val Verde voted to close the dump. Castaic voted to accept the money. Would Val Verde accept money if the dump were in Castaic?

I’d like to think they wouldn’t. I’d like to think they would want what is right. Trading money for ill health and smells and all of the other stuff the dump “gives” would keep them from taking money from the dump.

Through all of this, folks in Val Verde have kept saying: “It isn’t a matter of money. Good health and control of our own destiny are more important.”

Just think if the tables were turned. What if Castaic had a dump to expand?

Heck, I think the Castaic Area Town Council would take the money and the smell. Honor and the rectitude of their intentions seem to make no difference to them.

I’m sorry. Did I just use some words folks don’t understand? You can find them in the body of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you look there.



Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. As I said before. We have too much trash, by too many people in this area and they still use disposable diapers,depends,plastic bags,etc, and keep whining about the money spent on dump expansion. It the same in every city. Ck out Glendale’s fight.

    • Hi Shirley, I think the key is to use the areas of this country that have hundreds of miles where no one lives. There are many many areas left in this country that are inhospitable to people, and would be hospitable to a dump. Why do these people even think of putting a dump near people? What are they thinking!

  2. Susie Evans says:

    Less than 20% of the trash taken into Chiquita Canyon Landfill comes from Santa Clarita. The rest comes from all over Southern California. It’s not just Santa Clarita that needs to recycle, it is the world population that needs to recycle.

    I have checked out Glendale’s fight. Scholl Canyon Landfill is run by LA county and they use more time and money on keeping the toxins and smells away from the residents in the area. Chiquita Canyon Landfill is privately owned, ergo into profit not the health and safety concerns of the nearby residents.

    It appears to me, that the residents near Scholl Canyon are more concerned about the trucks and their roads, than they are the trash coming into the landfill.

  3. Mr. Manzer, this email has been a long time coming and is way overdue. I have experienced deep signs of gratitude every time I read your column. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate having someone with a voice speak on our behalf. I love this beautiful little valley, and my heart breaks with what is happening to the loans and the people here, imposed upon us by people who are beginning to appear downright evil, if not, then certainly succumbing to evil. There is more integrity in our little town than in the elected officials of Castaic and our representatives to Los Angeles County. I don’t know what makes you care so much for us, but I love you for it. Thank you with all my heart.

  4. Natalie Tate says:

    Mr. Manzer, I appreciate your recent articles and the SCVNews.com. I feel many people in the Santa Clarita and Castaic areas have no idea what is happening in their own communities and unfortunately this involves many issues. Thank you for your commentaries.

  5. Greg Kimura says:

    The residents of our community, Val Verde, spoke out and told us that they do not want the expansion. Health ailments and odor problems are what the people from Val Verde have endured and now they want the landfill to close as promised. The landfill closure date is set for November 24, 2019 or when they reach 23M tons of capacity.

    If the landfill had shown an interest in controlling the odors and looking into the health risks of the community, the vote would have been different. 112-0 is a very definitive statement from our community. We don’t like the way the landfill operates, we don’t like the spin they put on things and we don’t trust them. Nobody voted for the expansion, which did tell them a lot. It told them enough to pull the request for support from the CATC. They are losing the battle, because people are tired of hearing their stories.

    Thank you.


  6. Greg Kimura says:

    For those who live in Live Oak and Hasley Hills, I recommend you take a look at the Draft EIR for the landfill expansion. In this document, there is a section which tells you what the cancer risk is now vs during the expansion. Key points:

    – The cancer rate in the most affected part of Val Verde will increase
    – The cancer rate in Live Oak will be the same as the most affected part of Val Verde
    – The landfill will be visible from Hasley Hills
    – Logically, if the cancer risk is increasing, then something is causing it
    – If the cancer risk will be high in Live Oak, then the cancer causing agents must be blowing toward Live Oak
    – Since Live Oak is next to Hasley Hills then it can be expected that the cancer risk will be similar in both tracts.
    – Castaic will receive direct mitigation fees from the landfill. Based on the Draft EIR, Castaic will have reason to be paid for the negative effects of living next to a landfill

    I recognize the above and I agree that the community of Castaic should receive their 30% of the pool of mitigation funds. I do not have a problem with this. What I do have a problem with is that the agreement does not protect Castaic as well as it should. I feel it is a terrible mistake to agree to the document (and sign it) on the verbal promise that things will be okay and the landfill won’t “screw” us. What happens during the next recession, when profits drop and the landfill is looking for a way to cut costs? Or a change of ownership/management occurs and the new regime is not so friendly? This is why the written agreement must be rock solid. I learned this in my undergraduate business law class and through the school of hard knocks. I wish Castaic luck in this and let’s hope the landfill keeps their promise.

  7. Abigail DeSesa says:

    Now they are coming after our kids for support. The landfill has made its way onto the local school board agenda. SCVi Thursday at 4:00PM, upstairs in the Village room. Is it even legal for a public funded school to endorse something like this? I wonder… The landfill gives money to this school. It still does not make them a good neighbor.


    You might want to attend this open meeting.

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