It’s time to update L.A. County’s “siting element” – the 15-year plan that directs the county’s handling of solid waste, including the creation and expansion of landfills, if necessary.
The county will conduct a public scoping meeting Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hart Hall, 24151 Newhall Ave. (inside Hart Park).
Important things to know:
* The county is NOT expecting to need to develop any new Class III landfills in the county within the 15-year planning period;
* No site has been identified for potential development of new transformation (waste-to-energy) facilities in the county.
* It should be noted that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Val Verde is planning an expansion, and the draft environmental documents are expected to start circulating this month. As of Friday, they had not yet been released.
The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (also known as AB 939), requires each county to prepare a countywide siting element that describes how the county and the cities within the county plan to manage the disposal of their solid waste for a 15 year planning period.
The existing Los Angeles County Countywide Siting Element (CSE) published in 1997, was approved by the majority of the cities within the County which contains majority of the population, the Board of Supervisors, and California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), predecessor of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) on June 24, 1998.
The Draft CSE document describes each of the existing and planned solid waste disposal and management sites available for use by jurisdictions in Los Angeles County, and offers goals, policies, and strategies through which current and future solid waste management infrastructure needs can be met in a comprehensive and environmentally sustainable manner.
1.) WHAT IS THE COUNTYWIDE SITING ELEMENT AND ITS PURPOSE?
State law requires cities and counties to divert (reduce) 25 percent of their solid waste from landfills and solid waste facilities by 1995 and 50 percent by the year 2000, through source reduction, recycling and composting programs. State law also has recognized that after these diversion goals are met, the remaining waste must be properly disposed of in order to protect the public health and safety. As such, State law requires counties to prepare a plan to address management of this residual waste at landfills and transformation facilities for a 15-year planning period. This plan is called the “Countywide Siting Element” (CSE). The purpose of the County of Los Angeles Countywide Siting Element (CSE) is to provide a planning mechanism to address the disposal needs of the 88 cities and the County unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County for a 15-year planning period.
2.) WHY REVISED THE CSE?
To ensure that adequate disposal capacity is provided to protect the health and safety of County residents and businesses by:
• Updating the CSE in accordance with current laws, regulations, strategies, goals, systems, and technology.
• Facilitating development of new and emerging alternative technology facilities (e.g., conversion technologies).
• Identifying existing in-County landfills with potential for expansion.
• Integrating the County of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Districts’ waste-by-rail system into the existing solid waste management system.
To comply with the Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan’s 5-Year Review Findings which recommended revision of the CSE in order to:
• Remove the Elsmere and Blind Canyon Landfills from the CSE’s list of potential new landfill sites as required by the September 30, 2003, Board of Supervisors’ Motion, Synopsis 5.
• Re-evaluate and update the CSE goals and policies to ensure its continued applicability and efficacy,
• Address the effect of implementing the State’s Construction and Demolition Waste and Inert Debris Disposal Phase II Regs on the classification of inert waste landfills (formerly considered as unclassified landfills) as listing of inert waste landfills in the CSE.
• Expand the CSE’s discussion on alternative technologies to address the specific permitting needs of CT facilities and the current status of developing these technologies.
3.) WHO ENFORCES CEQA? WHAT ROLE DOES THE RESOURCE AGENCY HAVE IN ENFORCEMENT OF CEQA?
CEQA is a self-executing statute. Public agencies are entrusted with compliance with CEQA and its provisions are enforced, as necessary, by the public through litigation and the threat thereof. While the Resource Agency is charged with the adoption of CEQA Guidelines, and may often assist public agencies in the interpretation of CEQA, it is each public agency’s duty to determine what is and is not subject to CEQA. As such, the Resources Agency does not review the facts and exercise of discretion by public agencies in individual situations. In sum, the Agency does not enforce CEQA, nor does it review for compliance with CEQA the many state and local agency actions which are subject to CEQA.
4.) WHAT IS SOLID WASTE?
Solid waste includes garbage, trash, refuse, paper, rubbish, plastic, glass, cardboard, demolition and construction wastes, manure, vegetable wastes, animal wastes, and other discarded wastes. Solid waste does not include hazardous waste (toxic, corrosive, irritant, and/or explosive) liquid, medical, and radioactive wastes.
5.) WHAT IS A SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITY?
A solid waste disposal facility is a facility that accepts solid waste for land disposal, or a transformation facility whose principal function is to convert, combust, or otherwise process solid waste by incineration, etc. As. defined by State law, transformation does not include composting or biomass conversion.
6.) WHAT INPUT DOES THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAVE ON THE CONTENT OF THE REVISED CSE?
Public involvement in the planning process is extremely important to the proper development of the CSE. For this reason, public information meetings will be scheduled throughout Los Angeles County to request the public’s input on this document. The meetings are to be an exchange of knowledge, information, and concerns in addressing the solid waste disposal needs of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County and its unincorporated communities.
7.) WHO PREPARED THE REVISED CSE?
The revised CSE was prepared by Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Environmental Programs Division with the guidance of the Los Angeles County Solid Waste Management Committee/Integrated Waste Management Task Force (Task Force).
8.) WHAT IS THE TASK FORCE?
State law requires that each county assemble a local task force to, among other things, assist and advise the county agency responsible for preparing the Siting Element. In 1990, the cities within Los Angeles County and the County Board of Supervisors created the Task Force.
The Task Force members, each of whom is knowledgeable in one or more aspects of solid waste management or in such related fields as environmental quality, resource or energy conservation, and land use. The Task Force membership includes appointees of the Cities in Los Angeles County, the County Board of Supervisors, solid waste industries, environmental groups, and the private sector. The Task Force is responsible for the coordination of solid waste management issues on a countywide basis.
9.) HOW WILL THE PROPOSED SITING ELEMENT BE APPROVED AND ADOPTED?
The Preliminary Draft CSE will be released for public review and will be submitted to all 88 cities in the County; the Task Force; appropriate regional, State, and Federal governmental agencies; adjacent counties; and the public for review and comments for a 45-day period.
Additionally, a series of public information meetings will be held during the review period. Upon completion of this review and comment period and based on comments received (oral and/or written), the final Draft CSE will be prepared in coordination with the Task Force. The final Draft Siting Element will then be forwarded to the County Board of Supervisors prior to its release to all 88 cities for formal approval.
Upon receiving approval from a majority of the cities containing more than half of the population within the 88 cities, the final Draft CSE will then be submitted to the County Board of Supervisors for approval and CalRecycle approval.
10.) WHEN SITING A SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITY, WHAT IS THE CRITERIA CONSIDERED IN PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH AN SAFETY?
The Siting Element contains siting criteria developed to assist local jurisdictions in the permitting process of the expansion of an existing solid waste disposal facility, or a new landfill and/or transformation (incineration) facility. The objectives of the siting criteria are to protect the public health and safety and our natural resources as listed below:
• Protect residents;
• Ensure the structural stability and safety of the facility;
• Protect surface water;
• Protect groundwater;
• Protect air quality;
• Protect environmentally sensitive areas;
• Ensure safe transportation of solid waste;
• Protect the social and economic development goals of the community;
It should be noted that these criteria are not intended to replace any existing or future requirements/regulations of Federal, State, regional, and/or local agencies. However, consideration have been made to address potential expansions of several existing in-County Class III landfills within the 15 year planning period.
11.) WILL THERE BE ANY NEW LANDFILLS OR EXPANSIONS OF CURRENT LANDFILLS WITHIN LOS ANGELES COUNTY?
No new Class III landfill is expected to be developed in the County within the 15-year planning period.
12.) WILL THERE BE ANY NEW TRANSFORMATION, CONVERSION TECHNOLOGY, OR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES WITHIN LOS ANGELES COUNTY?
No site has been identified for potential development of new transformation (waste-to-energy) facilities in the County for this planning period. Currently, there are no proposed expansions of existing transformation (waste-to-energy) facilities in the County; therefore, no such facilities have been identified in the CSE.
Currently, there are no existing conversion technology facilities in the County. However, there are potential host sites for a conversion technology facility that were submitted to the County.
The City of Los Angeles is also investigating the development of a number of alternative technology facilities that may be sited at Material Recovery Facilities.
13.) WHAT IS CEQA?
CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
14.) WHO MUST COMPLY WITH CEQA?
CEQA applies to certain activities of state and local public agencies. A public agency must comply with CEQA when it undertakes an activity defined by CEQA as a “project.” A project is an activity undertaken by a public agency or a private activity which must receive some discretionary approval (meaning that the agency has the authority to deny the requested permit or approval) from a government agency which may cause either a direct physical change in the environment or a reasonably foreseeable indirect change in the environment.
Most proposals for physical development in California are subject to the provisions of CEQA, as are many governmental decisions which do not immediately result in physical development (such as adoption of a general or community plan). Every development project which requires a discretionary governmental approval will require at least some environmental review pursuant to CEQA, unless an exemption applies.