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Santa Clarita to Study Buying Land to Counter Dumps

Times Staff Writer

A combative Santa Clarita City Council is considering buying land in nearby canyons to prevent Los Angeles County from using them for landfills.

“We don’t want to be known as the city of the dumps,” said Councilwoman Jan Heidt, referring to county studies that have identified Towsley and Elsmere canyons as possible dump sites.

At the urging of Councilman Carl Boyer III, the council voted 4 to 1 Thursday night to ask landowners in Towsley and Elsmere canyons if they would be willing to sell their land to the city. If the city cannot purchase large tracts, Boyer said, it might be able to buy land that would surround entrances to the dumps. Elsmere Canyon is southeast of the city; Towsley is west.

The value of the land and the money available for land purchases were not known. The new city has a yearly budget of $13 million.

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City Manager’s Advice Rejected

The council voted to consider the purchases against the advice of City Manager George Caravalho, who favored a milder approach. Caravalho suggested that the city invite county officials to explain their plans for future landfills.

But council members wanted bolder action. “It’s time we stood up and said, ‘Get off our backs,’ ” Heidt said, referring to the county.

She charged that influential Westside residents have been able to persuade the Board of Supervisors not to consider potential landfill sites in the Santa Monica Mountains. Heidt said Santa Clarita Valley residents do not wield similar clout.

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“Out here we’re just hard-working folks, and I’m just tired of getting jerked around,” Heidt said.

Last summer, county Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Deane Dana and Ed Edelman said they opposed putting a landfill in three canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains and would do so only as a last resort.

Mayor Howard P. (Buck) McKeon cast the only dissenting vote.

“If we want to get in a fight with the county on who can buy the most land, we’ll lose,” McKeon said.

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Jill Klajic, a Santa Clarita activist on land-use issues, suggested that the council start annexing areas under consideration for dump sites. She said the city should begin looking for a city dump site.

Until Thursday, the council had not formally opposed Elsmere Canyon as a dump site, although council members had said they feared that a dump could contaminate the city’s water supply.

The city tried in January to gain a measure of planning jurisdiction over Elsmere Canyon in hopes of annexing it some day. The Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees incorporations and annexations, denied the request.

Two weeks ago, the council began studying a proposal by Antonovich that would let the city have an abandoned 520-acre alcohol rehabilitation center in return for not opposing Elsmere Canyon as a dump site. The old Saugus Rehabilitation Center is centrally located, and council members have said the site would be ideal for a city hall. The council has not formally responded to the proposal.

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