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Gina Nordenstrom: Lutness, Noltemeyer need to do homework

View from Val Verde

Posted: July 10, 2009 8:18 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
I am writing to correct a verifiable and completely incorrect statement made by Carole Lutness in her most recent Opinion column ("Conflicts of interest and other sorts," July 7).

The majority of her column was regarding Lynn Plambeck being denied a seat on the city of Santa Clarita's Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), and I have no issue one way or another in that regard; that is the city's decision.

What I take issue with is one of Lutness' examples, the citing that the Val Verde Civic Association has a "substantial and verifiable conflict of interest."

Lutness should have done just that - verified her statements prior to making them.

A few phone calls or a quick Internet search would have given her the correct facts, but she never made either the search or the phone calls.

She is 100 percent wrong in her assumptions and I would like to set the record straight.

A brief history will show the correct facts. In the mid-1990s, the Val Verde Civic Association negotiated with the Chiquita Canyon Landfill operator (Laidlaw Systems), Newhall Land and Farming Company (the landowner) and the County of Los Angeles to reach an agreement for the expansion of the landfill.

After two years, an agreement was reached among the parties in early 1997.

That agreement included 34 hard-fought mitigations (including that the landfill not take sludge) and a monetary settlement for the residents of Val Verde for the continued presence of the landfill for another 22 years.

Part of the agreement was that a separate and autonomous committee be formed to administer the funds received from the agreement in the best interests of the residents of Val Verde.

This committee, the Community Benefits Funding Committee (a 501c3 nonprofit), was formed in late August 1997 and a motion was made and passed by the Val Verde Civic Association at the Sept. 11, 1997, public meeting separating the Community Benefits Funding Committee from the Civic Association and giving it autonomy.

The Val Verde Civic Association is a 501c4 nonprofit organization and its mission is to stimulate community interest and involvement, encourage quality development and provide a liaison between the community, local government and business agencies.

Therefore the Val Verde Civic Association not only has a right to a seat on the MRF committee, but also a duty to our residents to be on the committee to keep them informed of the plans of local government.

Cam Noltemeyer made another erroneous statement in her June 11 Environmentally Speaking column ("Plambeck belongs on the MRF committee"), and she, too, should have done some homework.

To be perfectly clear, the Val Verde Civic Association never sued the landfill operator, Newhall Land and Farming Company or the county, nor was the association party to any lawsuit filed by any other entity in regards to the expansion of the landfill.

I am also curious why Lutness would think it would be considered a conflict of interest even if it was the civic association that received the money from the landfill.

The landfill is not a MRF and is in the county, not in Santa Clarita, and the city had nothing to do with our negotiations, so that should not even be a topic for debate.

If the Chiquita Canyon landfill is being considered by the city for the location of its MRF, that is more of a reason why we should be involved in the discussions of site location.

Val Verde is adjacent to the landfill and therefore ours is the community most directly impacted if the MRF is located there.

With regard to Val Verde's seat on the MRF site committee, our board has been in contact with residents to allow them to choose a candidate for the seat.

A final decision was made at our civic association meeting Thursday and Ethel Bonier is our choice. We have given her name to the city of Santa Clarita for approval.

I hope this clears up any misconceptions that Lutness put forth in her column.

Gina Nordenstrom is a 20-year Val Verde resident and secretary of the Val Verde Civic Association. Her column views reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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