The Assembly Ways and Means Committee late Wednesday shelved for this year a controversial bill to prohibit new trash landfills in the Santa Monica Mountains and in a large area of the San Fernando Valley.
The measure, which needed 12 votes for passage, was rejected on a 10-9 vote. As a result, the committee retains possession of the bill, which was introduced in March by Assemblyman Terry Friedman (D-Los Angeles) to protect federal parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The action was a setback for Friedman, a freshman lawmaker who in March had unveiled his bill at a well-publicized press conference attended by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. Friedman doggedly lobbied for passage of the measure, but it had been stalled in the committee for weeks.
"I'm disappointed because I think it's a very sound public policy issue to keep landfills out of parks," Friedman declared.
In the committee hearing room minutes after the vote, Friedman also vowed to continue to negotiate with opponents in an effort to fashion a compromise.
The measure was supported by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and a variety of homeowner groups in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
But it was opposed by Los Angeles County and lawmakers from neighboring areas who expressed fears that rubbish now trucked to the mountains would have to be diverted to San Gabriel Valley landfills.
"I don't want to send garbage trucks hither and thither around the entire region exacerbating traffic congestion," said Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), a committee member who opposed Friedman's bill. "I don't think a landfill is incompatible with the mountains," McClintock said.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Alhambra), who favored the bill, said the proposal was particularly difficult for some lawmakers to support because it could have encouraged more Los Angeles trash to be dumped in their legislative districts in other parts of Southern California.
Still other lawmakers privately speculated that Friedman's chances of success may have been hurt by last week's decision by Bradley to abandon the city's plan to build a huge trash incinerator in South-Central Los Angeles. They suggested that, without the incinerator project, legislators were hesitant to ban trash disposal in the mountains.
Friedman's bill would have banned landfills in 155,000 acres of the mountains, including Mission, Rustic and Sullivan canyons, and in 140,000 acres along the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The rim, which rings the Valley, includes two of the city's largest landfills, in Sunshine and Lopez canyons.
On June 9, the Ways and Means Committee turned down Friedman's bill, but he was allowed to have it reconsidered. Then, last week, as it was about to be discussed again, the committee delayed considering it, along with scores of other spending bills, until after the state budget was passed. But, with the budget snagged in the Assembly, the committee on Wednesday took up the bills, including Friedman's.