City Council Approves Expansion of Lopez Canyon Landfill : Trash: The panel imposes 22 conditions to limit contents. Passage includes spending $5 million to improve conditions for the dump’s neighbors.


The City Council voted Wednesday to expand the city’s huge Lopez Canyon landfill, but it also will spend $5 million on amenities for nearby residents to ease the pain of living next to the dump.

Faced with the mounting problem of where to put the city’s gargantuan garbage output, the council unanimously approved an expansion permit. In so doing, the lawmakers also imposed 22 conditions to limit the dump’s contents and combat gas leaks and answer health complaints from neighbors in Lake View Terrace.

The measure was sent to Mayor Tom Bradley on a 14-0 vote.

Councilman Ernani Bernardi, who represents the area, called the action a “good deal” for residents near the 392-acre landfill, where one-third of the city’s garbage is dumped daily.


“Compared with where we were two years ago, this is a major victory for the community,” agreed Rob Zapple, leader of a group of homeowners in adjoining Kagel Canyon who opposed the landfill expansion.

Controversy about noise, odors and windblown litter has dogged Lopez Canyon, the only city-owned dump, for several years.

Last year, state air pollution authorities ordered the city to pay $150,000 in penalties because of repeated leaks of methane gas generated by decomposing garbage, including incidents in which workers were overcome by fumes. In a related action, the city last September also agreed to spend $3.2 million to improve the landfill’s equipment for collecting and burning the gas.

One of the conditions imposed on the landfill’s operator, the city Bureau of Sanitation, is a $5-million fund to pay for numerous amenities, including tree plantings and recreational facilities, for the dump’s neighbors. The fund is to be administered by Bernardi’s office.


Another condition commits the city to a five-year program, costing $2.5 million annually, to keep hazardous household waste--such as motor oil, fingernail polish and paint--out of Lopez Canyon. The program will enable residents throughout the city to legally dispose of their hazardous wastes at toxic dump sites.

State laws prohibit dumping such material in landfills such as Lopez Canyon.

The council’s action approved a permit to allow 4,000 tons of garbage to be dumped daily into a 50-acre offshoot of Lopez Canyon, called Canyon C, for the next five years.

The Bureau of Sanitation had sought a 20-year permit to dump up to 7,200 tons per day.


Mike Miller, a bureau official, said the city has voluntarily been dumping about 4,000 tons a day at the canyon for several years. The remainder of the 5,500 to 6,000 tons of trash collected daily by city crews is dumped at private landfills, including Bradley West in Sun Valley, and a county-owned site in Calabasas.

City residents and businesses generate about 18,000 tons of trash daily, Miller said. Trash from businesses and apartment buildings accounts for two-thirds of the total, but is collected by private firms. Only refuse collected by city crews is dumped at Lopez.

Other conditions imposed limit the landfill’s height upon completion to 1,770 feet above sea level, ban the dumping of sewage sludge, mandate selection of an independent official to monitor the city’s compliance with the conditions and require an annual review by the city Planning Commission.

Phyllis Hines, a leader of the Lake View Terrace Improvement Assn., said, “We’d have liked to have closed down the dump altogether. But it’s not realistic.”


Over the years, Bernardi has repeatedly complained to his council colleagues about the burden borne by his constituents because of the landfill.

A frequent complaint of Bernardi has been that residents of the ethnically mixed, blue-collar neighborhood lack the clout needed to win battles in City Hall, in contrast to Bel-Air and Brentwood residents who in the early 1980s were able to shut the Mission Canyon landfill, and environmental activists who got the city to close Toyon Canyon landfill in Griffith Park.