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North City West Up in Arms Over Proposed Landfill

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just when they thought the worst had happened, after a freeway through their coastal community was approved, North City West residents learned this week that the site of a proposed 226-acre landfill is less than 2 miles to the east.

The Carmel Valley finger canyon is one of 10 potential landfill sites to serve the southwestern section of the county. The site is south of the Route 56 freeway alignment, a road community leaders had fought until the San Diego City Council approved the alignment last week.

The Carmel Valley location, selected by a firm hired by the city and county to find replacements for the rapidly filling Otay Lakes and Miramar landfills, has an estimated capacity of 26 million cubic yards of trash, smaller than other proposed sites.

Bob Epler, deputy director of the city’s solid-waste management system, said the site is designed to be one of a system of smaller landfills. It would not be another Miramar landfill, he said, adding that it would be designed to handle the needs of the growing North City area.

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Present city of San Diego dump sites will be full and closed at various times between 1998 and 2004, he said, unless recycling efforts extend their capacity.

A county solid-waste management division spokesman said protests from John Dean, chairman of the North City West Community Planning Group, and other Carmel Valley area residents will result in a second public meeting on the landfill site. Epler added that residents will have ample opportunity to express viewpoints at public hearings during the review process.

The first informational meeting was held in Scripps Ranch, more than 10 miles from the site, and was attended by fewer than a dozen people.

Jerry McCaw, a Del Mar Mesa resident who owns property within the proposed landfill site, said he was the only person at the Scripps Ranch meeting who had received a notice about it.

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He says he called other area residents to alert them, and most of the meager audience consisted of people he had contacted.

The county spokesman said a meeting notice was only sent to owners of property within the proposed site and not to surrounding residents or communities.

Jerry Mailhot, spokesman for the Carmel Valley Coalition that lost its bid to move the freeway route south of North City West and out of Carmel Valley, said the group will meet Monday to plan opposition to the landfill and decide what else can be done to prevent construction of Route 56. The meeting is tentatively set for 7:30 p.m. Monday at Solana Highlands Elementary School.

Route 56 will be a 9-mile-long state freeway connecting Interstate 5, at Carmel Valley, with Interstate 15, at Rancho Penasquitos.

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The council voted 6-3 May 8 to approve the freeway through Carmel Valley.

“The City Council knew about the landfill site when they voted on the freeway route. That land (along a proposed southern alignment) was too sensitive for a freeway, but it is OK for a trash dump,” Mailhot said angrily.

He said that, when North City West community planning officials called the county to ask why no one had been notified of last week’s meeting on the landfill, they were told that the community “had no interest” in the proposed dump site.

The Carmel Valley finger canyon was selected as a landfill candidate in the second round of the selection process. A list of 49 possible locations ranged from Campo, Pine Valley and Otay Mesa on the south to Escondido and Ramona on the north.

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One of the rejected sites adjoins the present Carmel Valley site and stretches nearly 4 miles up the valley, between North City West and Rancho Penasquitos.

The second round of the selection process was ordered by the county Board of Supervisors last November to concentrate on potential landfill locations in the western half of the county, closer to the county’s population center.

Chosen, in addition to the North City West site, were two locations immediately east of Chula Vista near the county’s Otay landfill, on land owned by the Baldwin Co., and a site on the northeastern corner of Miramar Naval Air Station, on property owned by General Dynamics. Meetings on the sites were held May 7 at the Otay Mesa branch library, May 9 in Scripps Ranch and May 10 in Lakeside.

In recommending the North City West site, the consultant’s report said:

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* There are few incompatible existing land uses nearby. It has low geological and biological constraints, and it is near the city.

* The land has low potential as a biological reserve, and is now principally grazed grassland.

* There are potential traffic impacts such as increasing truck traffic on Route 56 and its frontage roads.


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