[KHTS] – Three Santa Clarita Valley groups are planning to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to ask for another public hearing on the environmental report for an expansion for the Chiquita Canyon landfill.
Officials from the Val Verde Civic Association, Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Landfill Compliance and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment are requesting another hearing for the Chiquita Canyon Landfill Master Plan Revision Draft Environmental Impact Report, this time with all of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commissioners present.
County officials said the July 31, 2014, meeting, where residents were given a chance to express their concerns about the expansion, was held properly and according to procedure.
“(The commissioners) need to separate themselves from the process and are supposed to have an unbiased and subjective view,” said Edel Vizcarra, planning and public works deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who added that hearing examiners are sent to public hearings.
The commissioners are supposed to be “the last chain” before county supervisors, he said, and it’s typical to see members of the scoping staff at public meetings but not the commissioners themselves.
The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commissioners would possibly review the the final EIR toward the end of this year, once it has been reviewed and “tidied up,” Vizcarra said.
“Community members learned only recently that no hearing would be held before the commissioners during the draft period of the EIR, but only on the Final EIR,” according to a statement Monday from the environmental groups. “We object that this is not a fair process. … The community deserves to be heard before the full commission so that these issues can be addressed rather than rushing the project to approval.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
“A public hearing on the DEIR was conducted by the Department of Regional Planning in Castaic in July 2014 and the Regional Planning Commission will hold another public hearing on the project this year in the Santa Clarita Valley. The County of Los Angeles is currently reviewing the hundreds of pages of public comment and will address all questions and concerns in the Final EIR,” said Chiquita Canyon Spokesman John Musella. “In addition, Chiquita Canyon pro-actively provided a presentation to the Val Verde Civic Association a month prior to the public release of the DEIR in order to give the community plenty of time to review the project. We also participated in dozens of community meetings across the Santa Clarita Valley to various organizations and groups before and during the public review process.”
Press Release from SCOPE, Jan. 5, 2014:
Three Groups To Attend Jan 6th Supervisors Meeting to Demand Landfill Hearing Val Verde Civic Association, Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Landfill Compliance (C4CCLC) and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) will join forces to demand that the County hold a public hearing on the landfill expansion before the full Planning Commission.
They will ask that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill Master Plan Revision Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) [Project No. R2004-00559-(5)] be granted a full public hearing with all Regional Planning Commissioners present before the Final Report is released. The request is made due to the absence of any commissioner at the July 31, 2014 public hearing on the DEIR which took place in Castaic, CA. Even the Commissioner representing the 5th District, where the landfill is located, failed to attend.
Chiquita Canyon Landfill is currently located on Highway 126 immediately adjacent to the historic community of Val Verde. Although the residents of this community were promised that the landfill would be closed in 2019, a new proposal to expand Chiquita Canyon Landfill will instead make this landfill one of the largest in the nation, tripling truck traffic and adding to unresolved odor violations.
The Regional Planning Commission held a hearing in the community before a hearing examiner on July 31st last year. Nearly one hundred community members attended the July hearing and provided testimonials recounting health issues and suffering due to the landfill gasses and odors produced by the Chiquita Canyon Landfill at its current size and spoke out against an expansion.
Community members learned only recently that no hearing would be held before the Commissioners during the draft period of the EIR, but only on the Final EIR. We object that this is not a fair process. The hearing examiner does not make the decision and waiting until the final EIR to hear the community is too late. This expansion will have substantial impacts on all adjacent communities, especially Val Verde, as well as affecting air quality in the entire Santa Clarita Valley, an area already known for its poor air quality and failure to meet federally required ozone levels. The community deserves to be heard before the full Commission so that these issues can be addressed rather than rushing the project to approval.
“Here in Val Verde we are fighting for a full day of unobstructed breathing”, said Val Verde Civic Association Board Member Steve Lee. “The residents of Val Verde and surrounding communities were never given the chance for a hearing in front of the five Los Angeles Planning Commissioners. We would like to be given that chance during the Draft EIR period when there is still time to make changes to this proposal, and so formally ask for it today.”
Erica Larsen, speaking for Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Landfill Compliance stated, “Residents are also angry about the blatant disregard of an agreement made during the 1997 approval process for the last Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion. This agreement, made between the Landfill operators, the landowners where the landfill is located, and the people of Val Verde via the Val Verde Civic Association, promised that the landfill would close in 2019. The full Commission should review and be aware of this agreement.”
“The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is designed to ensure that the public has the opportunity to bring problems and concerns to the planning agency so that they can be resolved in the planning process. Eliminating the hearing before the Commissioners during the draft stage when there is still time to make changes, deprives both the Agency and the public of this important opportunity to create better and more informed planning options.” said Lynne Plambeck, SCOPE president.