L.A.'s Waste May Wind up in San Diego County if Proposal Goes Through

Garbage from trash cans in Los Angeles could face a 100-mile commute to a North County landfill if the city accepts one of five waste-hauling proposals submitted this summer.

Oct. 8—Garbage from trash cans in Los Angeles could face a 100-mile commute to a North County landfill if the city accepts one of five waste-hauling proposals submitted this summer.

Household trash generated by Los Angeles residents now ends up in the city's Sunshine Canyon landfill, but that may change if politicians stick to a commitment to stop using the local dump.

BLT Enterprises, an Oxnard-based company, submitted a proposal to the city of Los Angeles in late July to haul the city's trash to several destinations outside the city, including San Diego County.

Los Angeles city officials would not discuss the specifics of the five proposals, but BLT Vice President Sean Gutterson said Monday his company's proposal did mention San Diego County.

"San Diego is a possible long-term destination," Gutterson said. "Our bid did not quote any currently open or existing landfills. If it happened it would not be at a facility currently open, it would be at any of the landfills in process. These things take years."

Nothing prevents any of San Diego County's five landfills —— Borrego Springs, Miramar, Otay, Ramona and Sycamore —— from accepting trash from outside the county. The same is true for any future dumps built in the county, including the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill, slated for about 320 acres on a 1,770-acre site two miles west of the Pala Indian Reservation and three miles east of the Highway 76-Interstate 15 interchange.

If constructed, the $60 million Gregory Canyon landfill would be San Diego County's first in 25 years. The landfill was first approved by county voters in 1994, but has been repeatedly challenged by opponents, including the Pala Band of Mission Indians and local environmental groups.

Proposition B, a November ballot measure backed by the Pala tribe, seeks to overturn approval of the controversial dump.

Representatives for landfill developers Gregory Canyon, Ltd. said it was unlikely trash from Los Angeles would end up in San Diego County.

"We are not prohibited from accepting trash from outside the county, but the (landfill's environmental study) said Gregory Canyon will give preference to trash generated by San Diego County," said chief landfill representative Richard Chase. "We have no intention of taking trash from Los Angeles or Orange County."

San Diego County landfills accept very little waste from outside the county and do not presently take any trash from Los Angeles, although they could.

"Trash is a commodity and that's a private issue," said Donna Turbyfill, a deputy director for San Diego's Department of Public Works. "That having been said, landfills like to have a good relationship with the jurisdictions around them, so some landfills may set up a best management practice where they take trash from the surrounding jurisdictions."

Officials from Allied Waste, the private company that operates four of San Diego County's landfills, said taking garbage from a city such as Los Angeles is unlikely.

"We don't have any business in that market," said Jim Ambroso, district manager for Allied Waste. "It's too far away, and there are too many other options closer to Los Angeles."

Los Angeles sought garbage-hauling bids this spring as part of efforts to find alternatives to the Sunshine Canyon landfill in Granada Hills, which has been long opposed by nearby residents. The city's contract with the landfill expires in June 2006, and Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn has committed to stop using the landfill. Mike Qualls, director of public affairs for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works said the city has also hired a consulting firm to investigate alternative disposal methods, including rail hauling and converting waste to gas.

Los Angeles' approximately 744,000 single-family residences generate about 3,800 tons of waste daily, and the city presently pays about $23.40 a ton to haul trash directly to Sunshine Canyon. Trash directed to transfer stations before being loaded onto trucks headed to the dump costs $45.29 a ton. San Diego County's landfills charge between $26 and $42 per ton of waste, depending on the landfill.

© 2004, North County Times, Escondido, Calif. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.