Entertainer Bob Hope may not be able to avoid tangling with the Ventura County Board of Supervisors after all.
A draft environmental report, to be released today, says that if Hope follows through on a promise to sell Blind Canyon to the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts for use as a landfill, the county would probably have to get permits from the Ventura supervisors.
Blind Canyon straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The report’s findings essentially kill Hope’s attempt to avoid crossing paths with the Ventura supervisors, who he feels oppose a development on Jordan Ranch, another parcel of land that he owns.
Last month, Hope asked Simi Valley to annex 3,600 acres of Runkle Ranch, which contains Blind Canyon, and 2,300 acres of his Jordan Ranch, where a 750-unit housing development is planned. Two members of the board and one supervisor-elect said this week that they would oppose the development because of the traffic and smog it would create in the southeast county.
Hope and his attorneys have told Simi Valley officials that if the city does not annex his property, Blind Canyon would be sold to the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.
Hope restated this in a letter sent this week to thousands of Simi Valley residents.
“The Simi Valley City Council and the Ventura County Local Agency Formation Commission are now considering whether to pursue annexation so that Blind Canyon . . . can be forever preserved,” Hope wrote. “It’s only fitting that now the people of Simi Valley will have the first say in making this decision.”
Hope and his attorney, Payson Wolff, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Although Simi Valley officials have not committed themselves to supporting annexation, they have said repeatedly that the main reason they are considering it is to prevent a dump from being developed at the gateway to their city. A landfill is already located at the northwest end of Simi Valley.
The Simi Valley City Council has petitioned LAFCO for a preliminary ruling on whether annexation of Hope’s property is feasible. LAFCO is scheduled to consider the request at its next meeting Sept. 12.
Mayor Greg Stratton and Councilwoman Ann Rock said Tuesday that the city would still be interested in annexing if Los Angeles County decided to use Blind Canyon as a landfill without Ventura County land.
Kay Martin, director of the Ventura County Solid Waste Division, and Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts officials said that is a possibility.
But Martin and sanitation officials said that without the Ventura County portion--about 400 acres--the landfill capacity would be substantially reduced, possibly by as much as 40 million tons. She said the sanitation districts would also have to redesign the landfill to only include Los Angeles County.
In addition, the districts would still have to get grading permits from the Ventura County Planning Commission to extend Rocky Peak Road to the site in Los Angeles County.
Don Nellor, head of solid waste management for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, said Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the Los Angeles County side is the only alternative road. However, it runs through a residential community that includes $1-million homes.
“We don’t view that as a desirable access road,” Nellor said.
Meanwhile, Ventura County Supervisor Maggie Erickson said that although she had not seen the environmental impact report on Blind Canyon, she did not think that the board would support it as a landfill site.
Erickson said the central issue is still Jordan Ranch and whether it should be developed. She said that after reviewing an environmental report on the Jordan development, which would also include a tournament golf course, she did not think that she could support it. The report found that traffic and smog generated by the development would cause irreparable harm to the area’s rural environment.
Supervisor John Flynn and Supervisor-elect Maria VanderKolk have also said they could not support the project.
Another reason the supervisors have opposed the project is because it is tied to a controversial land swap involving federal parkland.
Under the land-swap proposal, the National Park Service would exchange 59 acres needed for an access road to the Jordan subdivision for 1,100 acres of the 2,308-acre ranch. In addition, Hope is donating and selling 4,600 acres in the Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountains to park agencies for a below-market price of $10 million.
The Hope proposal has been praised by some conservationists as the best deal possible, considering the shortage of public funds to buy parkland, but it has been denounced by critics who say Jordan Ranch should not be developed because it is within the boundaries of a national park area.
Mary Wiesbrock, head of the environmental group Save Open Space, which opposes the Jordan development, said Hope is running out of options to get his property developed. She said Hope can no longer threaten Simi Valley with a dump site in Blind Canyon because that decision may rest, in part, with the Ventura County supervisors.
“It’s up to Bob Hope whether it becomes a landfill or not,” Wiesbrock said of the canyon.