LA County

LA County Sues Over Failure to Develop Park Atop Puente Hills Landfill

KNBC

Los Angeles County is suing the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, alleging in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that the agency has yet to fulfill an obligation to put a park on top of the former Puente Hills Landfill near Hacienda Heights.

The county is seeking $238 million, plus $4 million "in perpetuity" from the Sanitation Districts, representing the cost of developing and maintaining the park. The complaint also seeks a court order directing the Sanitation Districts to develop and maintain the park according to a 2016 master plan.

However, Sanitation Districts has only $37 million in its site development fund, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court suit filed Friday.

"It is not feasible to develop park facilities for $37 million,'' the suit states.

The agency's alleged failure to provide sufficient funding to develop, operate and maintain the park is a violation of the Public Resources Code, the suit alleges.

A Sanitation Districts representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

At 1,365 acres, the former Puente Hills Landfill, which closed in 2013, is about the size of New York City's Central Park, the suit states. The landfill was the largest active such operation in the country prior to its shutdown, the suit also states.

The former landfill is as high as a 40-story building and is large enough to contain every car produced in America over a fifteen-year period, according to the suit.

"The towering landfill generates its own microclimate and wind patterns," the suit states.

Neighborhoods in the vicinity of the landfill, and the region as a whole, are in "desperate" need of park facilities, the suit states.

In 1994, the state Legislature, at the urging of residents concerned the Sanitation Districts "would simply walk away" after the landfill closed, passed special legislation imposing an obligation, concurrent with, but also independent from, the obligations within the landfill operation permits, on the agency to fund the park, the suit states.

The park project as outlined in a 2016 master plan would provide an additional 142 acres of park land to help offset severe shortages regionally and in nearby communities, the suit states.

"Now that the landfill has closed, the neighbors' fears are being realized," according to the suit. "The district has failed to satisfy its outstanding commitment to fund the park described and approved in the 2016 ... master plan."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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