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Simi Landfill Operator Offers to Slash Its Rates : Trash: In exchange, the dump would be allowed to accept additional waste. Proposal seen as possible solution for west county.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a move touted as a possible solution to west Ventura County’s trash problems, the operator of the Simi Valley Landfill offered Wednesday to lower its disposal rates if allowed to accept nearly 600 tons of additional trash per day from the other end of the county.

Under the proposal, the Simi Valley dump would become the primary destination for trash from Camarillo and Ventura as well as all the unincorporated areas of the west county once Bailard Landfill in Oxnard closes next July.

If an agreement can be reached among all parties, Waste Management, the landfill operator, said it would in turn drop its disposal fee to its customers by as much as $10 per ton. The current so-called tipping fee is $35.95 per ton.

But the company faces stiff opposition from east county officials, many of whom vehemently oppose west county cities sending more trash to Simi Valley. Their main concern is increased truck traffic on area freeways and side streets.

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The East Ventura County Waste Task Force on Wednesday rejected its staff’s recommendation to seek approval of the proposed agreement from its member cities. Task force members represent the cities of Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark as well as the county, on behalf of the unincorporated portion of the east county.

Some officials questioned the timing and motive of Waste Management’s offer, suggesting that the company was attempting to derail two rival proposals aimed at solving west county’s trash dilemma.

The operator of the Toland Road Landfill in Santa Paula is seeking an expansion permit to handle all of west county’s trash. And a San Diego firm has succeeded in placing a measure on the March, 1996, countywide ballot that will let voters decide whether a new dump should be built in Weldon Canyon north of Ventura.

Thousand Oaks Councilwoman Judy Lazar, a waste task force member, expressed concern that Waste Management’s proposal could ultimately give the operator a monopoly on trash disposal because the Simi Valley Landfill would be the only dump left in the county. The operators of Bailard have said that they would have to shut its sister dump near Santa Paula, which is subsidized by the larger Oxnard facility.

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“Once this is approved, there will be no competition for Waste Management,” Lazar said. “It’s like entering a marriage without the possibility of divorce.”

Danilo Vidal, general manager of the Simi Valley Landfill, said that the dump is not seeking a monopoly. He noted that Chiquita and Calabasas landfills in Los Angeles County would still be able to take Ventura County trash.

Although the Simi Valley dump is permitted to accept 3,000 tons of trash per day, Vidal said it only takes about 1,000 tons, including about 50 tons from Los Angeles County and 230 tons from west Ventura County. He said to survive economically the dump must increase its tonnage, either by accepting more trash from Los Angeles County or from west Ventura County.

Considering the choices, Vidal said that an agreement between west and east county cities would benefit everyone.

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“We need the tons, and they want the lower rates,” he said.

Simi Valley Councilman Bill Davis, who chairs the task force, said he believes that his city would approve the proposal because it provides an inexpensive regional solution for trash disposal and because the city does not want more trash coming in from Los Angeles County.

But Moorpark Mayor Paul Lawrason said he still believes that the west county should take care of its own trash.

“I don’t want more trucks coming through our city,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Joe Hreha, a Simi Valley planning official who prepared the task force’s report, said that although the Waste Management proposal does not include taking trash from all west county cities, its landfill has the capacity to accept more waste if necessary.

Currently, the cities of Santa Paula, Fillmore and Ojai send trash to the Toland Road Landfill and the Chiquita Landfill in Los Angeles County. As a result, Oxnard and Port Hueneme would be the only Ventura County cities left without a trash disposal site once Bailard closes next year.

Times correspondents Scott Hadly and Eric Wahlgren contributed to this story.


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