County moves to issue landfill notices in Spanish, complainers pleased

A compactor rolls over the exposed trash at a 200 x 200 foot "working face" site at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic in 2014. As soon as the the trash is spread and compacted it is immediately covered with dirt and the working face site moves forward. This view looks south-west towards the new proposed expansion site, and In the distance is the tall ridge which blocks the land fill from view of surrounding communities. Dan Watson/Signal
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After filing a civil rights complaint alleging the county failed to notify Spanish-speaking residents about the planned expansion of Chiquita Canyon Landfill, some of the issues in question have now been addressed.

The complaint was filed by a coalition of environmentalists and Val Verde residents.

Val Verde residents, claiming the majority were Hispanic Spanish-speaking, said they were victims of discrimination by the county’s failure to notify of them of the massive proposed expansion of Chiquita Canyon Landfill just over the ridge from their homes.

In 1997, the community made a settlement agreement with the landfill operator that called for closure of the landfill when it reached its then approved tonnage of 23 million tons.

According to the coalition, the landfill has now reached that capacity, but the operator is asking to expand.

Officials with the California Environmental Protection Agency, in responding to the coalition’s complaint, addressed concessions arrived at with county officials in a letter dated Jan. 4, 2017:

“We share your interest in improving community outreach and access to decision-making processes, and we have discussed these issues with representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning.

“As a result of those discussions, we understand that the Department has agreed to take the following actions regarding public notices and processes as the proposed Chiquita Canyon Landfill project moves forward.”

The changes were welcomed as small victories by coalition members.

“SCOPE and the other complainants were pleased to learn earlier that week, that the at least some of the issues have been addressed,” said Lynne Plambeck, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, said in a statement.

Issues addressed include:

– All notices are to be in both English and Spanish, as well as the executive summary.

– Signs are to be posted in both English and Spanish

– The full regional planning commission is to hold a hearing in the community.

– Spanish translation at the hearing is expected to be available if requested in advance.

“We are grateful to the State for ensuring that the community of Val Verde that will be most affected by this unwanted project, will have the opportunity to be fully informed in their own language,” Plambeck said.


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