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Public meeting Thursday night on Chiquita Canyon expansion

Posted: July 30, 2014 7:22 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2014 7:22 p.m.

Val Verde residents Steve Howse, left, and Steven Lee, right, join a group of residents who live near the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Signal photo by Dan Watson


A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Castaic Sports Complex to discuss the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion that would double the daily disposal tonnage at the site from 6,000 to 12,000 tons and expand the landfill itself by some 143 acres.

The meeting will be a chance for the residents of Castaic, and Val Verde in particular, to voice their support or opposition to the expansion.

Many people in Castaic say they have few problems concerning the landfill or its planned expansion and say that the landfill has been a good neighbor.

A group of about 17 people from Val Verde, however, met with The Signal this week and said they can smell the landfill, particularly at night and in the morning, and said complaints about this have not been addressed by either the landfill or the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee that acts as a liaison between the community and the landfill.

“If you don’t see the sun, that’s when you’re smelling it,” said Steven Howse Tuesday night as he stood in front of his home that he has lived in since 1998. “It’s in the night and in the morning.”

He estimated that, on average, he can smell the landfill at some point four days out of seven in a typical week.

Val Verde resident Steven Lee lives a short distance away from the ridge line barrier that separates Val Verde from Chiquita Canyon. Despite that, he, too, says there are days where he can smell the landfill at his home.

“We’ve been complaining now for 16 years and they were like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t smell and nobody ever complains,’” said Brandi Howse. “We’re the ones close to it, we’re the ones taking the beating for it and it’s just like, ‘Oh, you don’t matter,’ so it was really frustrating.”

Greg Kimura, a resident who also represents the area on the Castaic Area Town Council, said he has heard frustration from some residents regarding how odor complaints are investigated.

“There are people that complain to us saying when the landfill representatives come out they say ‘That’s your neighbor’s trash can, that’s a dead animal, that’s your septic tank, it’s this flower that smells like that,’” he said.

When the landfill receives an odor complaint, administrators send out someone to investigate, according to landfill spokesman John Musella. Officials will also check their on-site wind monitors to determine the direction the breeze is blowing at the time of the call.

Additionally, landfill officials walk Val Verde to check for odors, he said.

“Since the release of the draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for Chiquita’s Master Plan Revision three weeks ago, there has been an increase in calls from Val Verde,” Musella said.

He said Chiquita Canyon takes safety very seriously.

“The trash from your home, from under your kitchen sink, comes to Chiquita and is disposed of safely,” he said.

Other residents
Despite concerns with the landfill’s operation, not everyone in Val Verde is gunning to shut it down.

“I don’t want to be a person who has the attitude of ‘not in my backyard,’ I get that it is a necessity in our lives, I’m OK with that,” said resident Abigail DeSesa.

“I just want them to respect our health and to respect our opinions and share with us a good flow of information so that I can take the right steps if my health is ever in jeopardy.”

The same goes for Steven Howse.

“If I could just get rid of the odor, I really like it here,” he said of his longtime home. “I think it’s a good place for my kids.”

Earlier this month, Vanessa Brookman, president of the board for the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee and resident of Val Verde since 2005, told The Signal she has personally not had any negative dealings with the landfill.

Before she joined the committee, Brookman said, she hardly ever heard complaints from others in the area about the landfill.

“For every complaint I hear about odor, there is a greater number of residents who will say they’ve never smelled the landfill,” she said.

Both Brookman and Castaic resident Flo Lawrence praised Chiquita Canyon. Lawrence said he supports the expansion, calling the landfill “an amazing neighbor.”

“L.A. County needs someplace to put its garbage — it’s unavoidable, period,” he said. “We might as well put it where they’re paying attention and doing it right.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




Patriot1: Posted: July 31, 2014 12:59 a.m.

Any opinion from Lennar since it is getting ready to build 20 thousand homes in close proximity?

newsreader1965: Posted: July 31, 2014 11:22 a.m.

Great question from Patriot1, once again a developer will build around an expanding landfill in Southern California. What happens if this landfill leaks and the groundwater that Lennar is depending on gets contaminated? How many people that are going to buy in this new city will be informed that they are buying next to this large landfill and that it could expand even more??

chefgirl358: Posted: July 31, 2014 11:49 a.m.

There is no more groundwater and since we are in the worst drought ever there is no way in hell that anyone should allow 20,000 structures of ANY kind to be built, let alone ones that contain tens of thousands of water sucking people and landscapes.

I hope this drought will be what puts the nail in the coffin for that awful stupid project.

SenseInCastaic2: Posted: July 31, 2014 12:04 p.m.

@Newsreader1965 -
FIRST: Notification of the Landfill must, by law, be disclosed in real estate docs... (as with things like airports, train stations, oil refineries, Lakes, etc.)
SECOND: the Landfill will not be able to expand more after this, it will be land-locked.

newsreader1965: Posted: July 31, 2014 12:25 p.m.

@senseInCastaic2- The expansion of landfills that should not have been expanded in southern California is a long list. If we continue to produce waste at the rate we are it has to go somewhere. Almost every landfill in this county has been expanded beyond where it originally intended. Notification of the Landfill will only be required for the homes that are close to the landfill and not all of the ones that will be affected by it if it leaks.

castaic2: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:33 p.m.

Where to start; the landfill has been working this process very quietly and spreading a lot of money getting support from local service organizations. They have been doing notifications at the minimum required by law. The impacts of this expansion goes beyond water (which is important) but air quality for Live Oak, Val Verde, Valencia Industrial park, Hasley Hills, and Hasley canyon. The paper keeps using quotes from supporters, a renter in Val Verde and a councilman who lives in North Castaic. The fact is there has been little opposition because the CATC has treated those who attend council meetings with total disregard and even distaine. In 1997 there were documents signed by the landfill owner and a group of people which included the president of Newhall Land and Farm, and a CATC Councilwoman promising that the 1997 expansion was the last. So when I here you knew the landfill was there when you moved there that is not quite complete. Relators for years have said to home purchasers it will be closed by 2017-19. The fact that this process is moving along is a breach in contract and the Castaic community must rise up and hold the County, NLF and the Landfill Co accountable.

flolawrence: Posted: July 31, 2014 4:19 p.m.

castaic2 - please say hello tonight at the meeting! Isn't it great how you can use an anonymous name and sling accusations and falsehoods all around? I do live in North Castaic. I also have a home in Hillcrest Park. Why don't you reveal your stake in Castaic? I have a good idea what that is, and you have a right to speak your mind with full transparency. But then, you would be held accountable.

As President of the CATC, and if I may speak for my colleagues, the Council does not treat those who attend our meetings with "total disregard and disdain" (you might wanna whip out spell-check once in awhile. You might also want to attend a few more meetings). I personally (sometimes to the dismay of my fellow Council members, who aren't fond of five hour meetings) go out of my way to make sure everybody is heard. I never want anyone to leave a meeting feeling as if they were denied their opportunity to speak.

LA County will not be building any more landfills. CCL does an exemplary job, so much so they are considered an industry leader and example. But really, what it comes down to is, we keep sliding our credit cards at Ralph's, Costco, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. We produce more solid waste per capita than ever before. Chiquita, by the end of the current CUP, will use less than 40% of their acreage. Do you think the County, with millions of consumers, and thousands of new homes in the pipeline, wants to close Chiquita with unused capacity?

Geese: Posted: July 31, 2014 4:27 p.m.

Another puff piece. Everything castai2 stated in his comment is true. Brookman doesn't live close to the landfill and Hasley Hills isn't close enough right now to experience what residents on the east side of Chiquito Canyon and east of Del Valle do. What you don't see is one of the residents in that crowd bent over because she couldn't breathe, and she was nauseous. --edited.

VanessaBrookman: Posted: July 31, 2014 5:54 p.m.

Castaic2 - Yes, be sure and say hello to ME TOO, I'll be standing/sitting next to Flo!
This "RENTER in Val Verde" Has put in COUNTLESS volunteer hours for this Community over the past near decade... can you say the same? (We don't know, because you hide behind an alias)
Where I live only affects whether or not I *smell* the Landfill, not how I support my community. It's true, I don't smell it, never have. That doesn't mean I don't think others have.
As I have said, regardless of the origin of odors, let's work together to Find them and Fix them. That's what we are all here for, residents, board members, county agencies and landfill employees alike.
See everyone at the meeting tonight.

castaicjack: Posted: July 31, 2014 8:59 p.m.

Of course we need to expand the landfill, where do you think they're going to put all the new crocka from 20,000 homes off the 126 and another 1000+ in Castaic?

VanessaBrookman: Posted: August 1, 2014 3:36 p.m.

It was crickets from Castaic2 at the meeting tonight, never said hi. hmmmm

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