Board OKs Sharp Limits on Dumping at Landfill

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals voted Tuesday to sharply limit the amount of dumping at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill after 1989.

The board refused to revoke the zoning variance that allows the landfill to operate, but it ordered that all dumping in the landfill’s primary filling area must stop at the end of next year.

The dump’s owner, Browning-Ferris Industries, vowed to appeal the decision to the City Council. But dump foes hailed it as a major victory.

“This means the dump is going to close” after 1989, predicted Greig Smith, chief deputy to City Councilman Hal Bernson, who has been among the dump’s leading opponents.


Representatives of Browning-Ferris said they could not comment on the decision’s impact until they have more time to evaluate it.

But Dean Wise, the dump’s general manager, told the appeals board during its discussion that closing the landfill’s primary dumping area could force Browning-Ferris to accept only 10% of the trash it accepts now.

The 300-acre landfill accepts more than 7,000 tons of trash a day, or about 15% of all the refuse in Los Angeles County.

The Board of Zoning Appeals considered allegations of several technical violations of conditions set forth in the dump’s 1966 zoning variance. A city zoning administrator ruled in September that the dump was too high, that dumping or grading had occurred too close to a ridgeline and in several areas banned under the variance, and that dust and litter had blown into a nearby neighborhood.


Firm Appealed

Browning-Ferris appealed, as did the North Valley Coalition, a group of Granada Hills residents who sought to have the variance revoked and the dump closed.

The board agreed that nearly all the violations existed except the one alleging that there was dumping too close to a ridgeline. It also agreed with the administrator’s ruling that the landfill must seek a new zoning variance that would allow the dump’s height to exceed the “approximately 1,700 feet” specified by the old variance. The dump’s height is now 1,724 feet.

The board went further than the zoning administrator in ordering that the main part of the dump close by the end of next year. Board members agreed with contentions by the North Valley Coalition that the dump has reached its capacity for accepting trash.


“The plate is overloaded,” board member Ilene Olansky said.

“It’s time to draw it to an orderly close,” member James D. Leewong said.

The vote came after more than 6 hours of testimony by Browning-Ferris representatives and opponents of the landfill.

Browning-Ferris attorney Linda J. Bozung argued unsuccessfully that the variance did not expressly impose a height limitation on the landfill and that the city Bureau of Sanitation approved much of the grading and filling that occurred outside the boundaries approved by the variance.


Landfill opponents noted that the Bureau of Sanitation has no authority on land-use questions.

Bozung said Browning-Ferris will appeal to the City Council, but it may be an uphill fight. The first body to hear such an appeal would be the council’s Planning and Environment Committee. The committee is chaired by Bernson, who initiated the entire zoning action against Browning-Ferris when he asked the city last year to revoke the dump’s variance.