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Ventura Backs Expanding Toland Road Dump, Opposes Weldon Canyon

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Faced with the pressing question of what to do with the city’s trash, the Ventura City Council is expressing reluctance to lock the city into a long-term contract with the Simi Valley Landfill.

But Monday night the council embraced the idea of expanding the nearby Toland Road Landfill, and repeated its opposition to a proposed dump at Weldon Canyon.

The decisions concluded a two-hour discussion of various options facing Ventura leaders regarding the city’s future waste.

“I hope everyone realizes that trash is not the sexiest issue we deal with,” Councilman Steve Bennett said. “But it is probably one of the most important issues we deal with.”

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The city now generates about 440 tons of trash a day. Of that amount, 190 tons are sent to Bailard Landfill in Oxnard, 60 tons are sent to the Simi Valley Landfill and another 190 tons are recycled or processed into wood.

But with Bailard due to close in July, the city is scrambling to find another site for its waste.

Council members Monday were presented with nine options that involved the Toland and Simi landfills, two Los Angeles County dumps, remote dump sites reached by rail, and a proposed landfill at Weldon Canyon between Ventura and Ojai.

In its discussion, the council agreed on two points:

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* To oppose the long-debated Weldon Canyon proposal and a developer’s attempt to win voters’ approval of the proposal through a March ballot initiative.

* And to support the expansion of the Toland Road Landfill, situated in a canyon north of California 126 between Santa Paula and Fillmore.

The Ventura Regional Sanitation District wants to extend the life of the 26-year-old dump by adding 33 acres of landfill space. Santa Paula and Fillmore residents oppose the plan because it would increase local highway traffic.

Although their vote of support will infuriate neighboring cities, Ventura council members said the Ventura Regional Sanitation District’s plan was the best option.

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“It is a lot cleaner landfill expansion than I thought it would be,” said Councilman Gary Tuttle, Ventura’s representative to the sanitation district board. “Given all the alternatives, it’s probably the best choice.”

The council also discussed an invitation to join a consortium of Ventura County cities that would dump their trash at the Simi Valley Landfill.

Under that proposal, the landfill’s operator would drop dumping rates by 34% if it can secure an exclusive contract.

But city leaders must decide by March 1 whether to join the consortium or risk being locked out of the landfill entirely, city officials warned. “Nonmembers will be locked out,” said Steve Chase, assistant to the city manager.

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Although city staff members recommended the Simi proposal, council members said they were uncomfortable with the tight timeline.

“I really don’t like making this decision with a gun to our heads,” Bennett said. “It just doesn’t feel right.”

The council was not asked to vote on the Simi Valley proposal Monday night. The issue will come back for further consideration next month.


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