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City should oppose Gate-King project

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: March 27, 2008 1:31 a.m.
Updated: May 28, 2008 5:03 a.m.
In the early 1990s, the Elsmere Canyon Landfill proposal certainly looked like a "done deal." This mega-dump with all the associated polluting truck traffic seemed unstoppable with many politicians in
support of it.

But the huge amount of money and the power of Los Angeles County did not dissuade our city, environmental groups and residents. We didn't want to lose this beautiful canyon and its 3,000 oaks in the Newhall Pass. We wanted to preserve the wildlife corridor and not add to traffic in the pass area, which even then was awful. And, we didn't want a huge dump creating more air pollution in our valley.

The city, environmental groups and residents worked hard together to stop this proposal and start our city recycling programs to reduce the amount of trash we were producing. Our argument was that we would
recycle and eliminate the need for a new landfill in our community. This is the very important reason behind many longtime residents' adamant efforts to "reduce, reuse and recycle" everything in sight.
Anything we recycled, composted or didn't throw away would reduce the need for a new dump in our backyard.

So at the state Capitol on Tuesday, it was no surprise to see both Councilwoman Marsha McLean and Paul Mason from the state Sierra Club office at the podium before the Senate Resources committee. They were
there to support Sen. George Runner's bill adding Elsmere Canyon to the "Rim of the Valley Corridor," a preservation plan envisioned to include the mountain areas between the San Fernando Valley and Santa
Clarita Valley. The committee voted 7-1 in support of this concept, with one Republican senator opposing.

What is surprising, however, is the city's inconsistencies in its planning policy for this important natural area. While vociferously and rigorously opposing Elsmere Landfill on the east side of Highway
14, and the Las Lomas project on the east side of Interstate 5 in this same area, the city approved the huge Gate-King Industrial Project between these two unpopular proposals.

This industrial project will add at least 27,000 auto and truck trips per day to the Newhall Pass area, according to the EIR. If the dump proposal is added, the truck traffic will be even worse, especially
at the San Fernando onramp to Highway 14, where commuters are already backed up into Newhall in morning traffic. Where was the outrage?

The city opposed a dump in Elsmere Canyon but supported a dump in the Gate-King industrial project, the same dump proposal loudly opposed by residents of Canyon Country at a recent council meeting.
The city opposed the destruction of 3,000 oaks in Elsmere Canyon and the many more slated for destruction in Las Lomas, but it supported the destruction of ridge lines and 1,400 oaks (the largest number for any project ever in the city or the county), in the Gate-King Industrial project. Where was the outrage that was so focused against these other projects in this important natural area?

Oh, and by the way, don't be fooled. The Gate-King industrial project is not a "ranch" or a "park," as it is called by the PR spinmeister consultants who are trying to foist this horrendous industrial project on the public. It is not a park; it is an industrial project proposed right in the Rim of the Valley Corridor area.

It is wonderful that our city has made us all so clearly aware of the destructive negative impacts of such projects through its opposition to the Las Lomas project and the Elsmere dump. We are sure that
residents already fed up with the destruction of our natural areas, air pollution and traffic jams from poorly planned over-development in the North County area will turn out in droves to fight this industrial project as well.

SCOPE and the Sierra Club have long opposed the Gate-King industrial project because of its devastating impact on the natural area that links the San Gabriel and Santa Susanna mountains. The oak woodlands
there are not only beautiful but serve to help us clean up our very polluted air. This important wildlife corridor area is not only important to animals but is absolutely necessary to our own human
health and quality of life. Yes, the revitalization of Pine Street in Newhall is needed, and we support that, but most of the industrial project and all of the Gate-King property itself is in a pristine natural area.

We applaud and support the city's efforts to stop the Elsmere dump and the 5,800-unit Las Lomas project. But we demand consistency! If destruction of oaks and ridge lines is bad in Las Lomas and in Elsmere Canyon, then it is certainly bad in the Gate-King Industrial project as well.

We therefore urge the city to use its new Open Space Funding District to acquire the Gate-King property and add it to the Rim of the Valley Corridor. Such a purchase is right in line with the promises of this
district to surround our city with an open space greenbelt. It would reduce traffic and air pollution in this already-over-burdened area and ensure the integrity of the magnificent Rim of the Valley Corridor concept.

Lynne Plambeck is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and president of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment. Her column represents her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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