$3 Million in County Taxes OKd for Project at Dump

Times Staff Writer

A proposal to build a business complex on the northern portion of the closed Operating Industries Inc. landfill cleared its first hurdle this week when the county agreed to divert property tax dollars for the project.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 0 Tuesday to provide the Monterey Park Community Redevelopment Agency with up to $3 million from the county's share of local property taxes collected during the 35-year term of the project.

Under the agreement, Montery Park will be required to pay back the county over a period of about 20 years. The board also placed a $40-million limit on the total of local property taxes that can be diverted for the development, which will include construction of a $12-million commercial complex and a new Pomona Freeway interchange.

Sharon Yonashiro, a staff member in the county budget division, said that because of the board's growing concern over use of tax dollars for commercial developments, Monterey Park will be required to reimburse the county for the $3 million in property taxes.

"We feel we can't afford to keep having these redevelopment projects go on that provide for nice things like roads and freeway ramps when the county needs the money," Yonashiro said. "This agreement limits what the agency can draw off in taxes and ensures that the county will be repaid."

Before construction of the interchange can begin, the city must excavate about 120,000 cubic yards of rubbish buried on the site. The 45-acre project area, north of the Pomona Freeway, has not been used for dumping since the 1950s, according to city officials.

Development of the rest of the landfill, comprising another 135 acres south of the freeway, is not addressed in the current agreement because the area is plagued with hazardous-waste problems and could not support major construction until at least the year 2000, county officials said.

Increase in Value

The county has estimated that the project will increase the 45-acre parcel's value from $8.4 million to $43.6 million during the next five years.

As a result, property taxes generated in the area will increase from $83,952 this year to $436,686 by 1990, county analysts said.

By state law, one-fifth of the new taxes generated by the site's development will be set aside for low- and moderate-income housing near or in the project area. However, Yonashiro said, the county has made no determination whether new housing should be erected near the controversial landfill.

"Theoretically, in 20 or 30 years all those noxious fumes may be gone and the area may be a candidate for future housing development," she said. "But we really don't know the answers to those questions."

Development of the site has caused concern among homeowners in nearby residential areas because of the city's plan to excavate rubbish--believed to be non-toxic commercial waste--dumped there about 30 years ago.

Members of a local homeowners' group that fought for closure of the landfill have asked the South Coast Air Quality Management District to ensure that the excavation will not release toxic fumes or other waste into the atmosphere.

The dump, which was closed in October, is under final consideration for designation as a federal Superfund cleanup site.

The decomposition of trash in the southern section of the landfill produces up to 35,000 gallons of hazardous liquids a day and releases foul-smelling methane gas that migrates into adjacent residential neighborhoods.

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