Locals voice landfill opinions at public meeting

Supporters in bright green and opponents in various shades of red attended a meeting at Rancho Pico Junior High March 1 to voice their support or concerns about the proposed expansion at the Chiquita Canyon landfill for county commissioners who were to decide on the fate of the project March 1, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

About 400 people gathered to trash talk on Wednesday night.

Or rather, talk about trash.

The Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission is reviewing Chiquita Canyon Landfill’s request to double its size, and citizens across the Santa Clarita Valley gathered at Rancho Pico Jr. High to voice their support and concerns about the expansion. Each commenter was allotted two minutes to speak.

Many donned green “I support Chiquita Canyon” shirts and hats in support of the proposal while many of those opposed wore stickers with a bold red “NO!”

Tanya Hauser, a Val Verde resident, spoke about the smell of the landfill and its impact to the nearby business park and post office.

“My fellow Republicans who are wearing green hats and shirts, it’s my guess you wouldn’t be wearing those hats and shirts if you had loved ones in the proximity of Chiquita Canyon,” Hauser said. “Please value the health of citizens over economic expediency.”

Bonnie Nikolai, Castaic Town Council board member, said air quality tests were not done randomly but strategically and said Val Verde had a high cancer death rate.

“I’m asking you to choose the environmental option,” she said. “It was almost like this was done on purpose to keep the public in the dark… I’m asking for a further study to put neighbors’ minds to rest.”

Barbara Myler, a resident of 30 years who is currently fighting breast cancer, said she is hurt by the claims others made about the disease she fights every day as a means to scare people against the landfill. She said Chiquita Canyon does good work for the community and she supports their efforts.

“They’re using cancer to irresponsibly scare the public by making hurtful claims and misinformation about cancer,” she said.

Nancy Oliver, a Santa Clarita resident, said the particle pollution the landfill creates is inescapable.

“Even if you are healthy, you can feel symptoms of particle pollution,” she said. “Why did this city’s residents have to be singled out for the benefit of the rest of the County?”

President and CEO of Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce Lois Bauccio said she supports the continued operations of the landfill in light of the business aspect of Chiquita Canyon.

“Chiquita Canyon is a local business that contributes to the economy of the region,” she said.

Dave Bossart, in support of the landfill expansion, said the West Ranch Town Council supported the landfill as responsibly and safely managed.

“Chiquita Canyon has built a reputation of taking care of solid waste in an environmentally conscientious manner,” Bossard said.

Joshua Rivers, representing Rep. Steve Knight’s office, said he was proud to speak in favor of the landfill.

“I urge you to support Chiquita Canyon,” he read on behalf of Knight.

Logan Smith, a Valencia resident representing the Democratic Party, said the issue was not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats, but of morality and health.

“The air we breathe and the health of our children is not a partisan issue,” he said.

Patti Skinner Sulpizio, speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party, said she believed the Republican Party had an advantage in the matter of the landfill because of funding.

“(The Democrats) have no money backers,” Sulpizio said. “All we have is each other.”

If approved, the landfill will increase from 257 acres to 400 acres and will rise from 1,430 feet to 1,573 feet. Chiquita Canyon Landfill LLC, the applicants for the project, also propose to increase daily disposal limits from 6,000 to 12,000 tons.

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