County discusses tax relief, emergency for Chiquita 

Protestors gather in support of shutting down Chiquita Canyon Landfill on Thursday at Hasley Canyon Park. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

In response to 5th District LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s call to see if county agencies can offer any tax relief to residents impacted by Chiquita Canyon Landfill, the assessor’s office shared information Tuesday about the Proposition 8 decline-in-value process and potential late-penalty relief at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors. 

There was also a renewed discussion of how a local declaration of a state of emergency might help, which was initially dismissed by Barger last week after her previous conversations with county officials. 

Chiquita Canyon Landfill has created health problems for residents, which have been documented for nearly a year as a problematic older section of the landfill continues to draw thousands of complaints a month over its odor problems and pollution concerns. 

A community meeting about the landfill’s problems expected to be attended by the state and federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state air and water regulators, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Castaic Middle School.  

Tax forms 

At the local level, the county has limited authority to cancel penalties associated with late property-tax payments, said Keith Knox, L.A. County’s tax collector, adding that it would need to come from Sacramento. 

“But we do understand the impacts to the residents of this area,” Knox said, and those who can’t pay in a timely manner can submit a request to cancel penalties, which is available online at 

The Prop. 8 process is typically the tool through which a resident can appeal their tax from July 1 to Nov. 30, based on concern that something has affected the value since its previous assessment, according to Deputy Assessor Steve Hernandez. 

Barger asked what it takes to trigger such a request, and Hernandez said one sale could be used as a baseline for an individual’s request, but that the office is also watching the local activity and hasn’t found conclusive evidence yet. 

“We have a number of … market sales that we’re trying to find in order for us to compare,” Hernandez said. “Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t necessarily there yet to support a statistical data or a statistical movement in the market value. But we are searching and we are actively analyzing all of that data and information.” 

In response to Barger’s question, tax officials said the reduction in value would be for assessment purposes and not affect the base value assessment. It’s also a voluntary process, she said. 

The Southland Regional Association of Realtors has had a form available on its website dated September 2023 that refers to a disclosure associated with the landfill. 

The form was created prior to the knowledge of the landfill’s leachate issues becoming known outside the facility. 

But it advises that a property is proximate to Chiquita Canyon Landfill, mentions the law firm suing to close down the landfill, the landfill’s website and the website for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which investigates complaints about the landfill. 

“Buyer should consult with appropriate experts and/or a qualified real estate attorney to obtain additional information,” according to the form. 

The most recent numbers available on the SRAR website indicate the Castaic market is seeing increased activity, and sellers’ expectations are not being met. 

In Castaic, there were 28 active listings and eight escrows closed in February 2023. The median list price was $720,000, and the sale price was just below that at $718,000. 

In February 2024, there were 38 active listings and nine escrows closed. The median list price for those homes was $869,000 — the median sale price was $780,000. 

In February 2023, the median list price for Val Verde was $620,000, with only one listing. In 2024, there was again one listing, and its list price was $559,900. 

Emergency relief  

After Barger thanked county agencies for their help in response to the odor problems affecting thousands of residents surrounding the landfill, both 1st District Supervisor Hilda Solis and 2nd District Supervisor Holly Mitchell mentioned ways the board might be able to help.  

Mitchell, a former assemblywoman, and county CEO Fesia Davenport both indicated an emergency declaration helped the county after millions of tons of sewage spilled into Dominguez Channel due to recent storms.  

The local declaration was helpful to county Public Works in that scenario because it helped them access state and federal funds. The hope also is that the state will follow suit, which also frees up more funding resources to help residents, Davenport added. 

Barger recently acknowledged concerns about the community benefit relief fund set up by Chiquita Canyon Landfill after residents challenged the language in the online application form for the funds. 

The landfill the next day issued a reply to Barger’s call for transparency. Residents continue to have concerns Chiquita will collect their information and use it against them in future lawsuits.   

Barger said Tuesday she wanted to make sure the landfill was paying for the mess it created. 

She also said that, early on in the crisis, she asked Kevin McGowan in the county’s office of Emergency Management and was told initially that “given the issues surrounding Chiquita, it doesn’t meet (the declaration requirement),” she said to Mitchell. 

“But we will again ask because maybe we didn’t ask the right way. I’ll ask the way you asked, alright?” Barger said smiling. 

Solis, whose district also was impacted by a contamination problem from a battery-recycling facility, asked about the potential for the county to create a fund for future situations like this. 

Going back to financial liability, Barger reiterated that if the county is going to go that route it needs to hold those responsible to pay for it. 

Barger mentioned the relocation funds being paid out now were from Chiquita Canyon Landfill. 

“But again,” Barger said, after thanking Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, for their letters of support for an emergency declaration at the state level, “we’ll ask, again.” 

The EPA meeting is a hybrid meeting. To register to participate online, click here:

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