Inyo County Supervisors adopted resolutions of necessity to authorize the filing of condemnation actions to acquire three properties from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The action was taken at the Board’s August 15 meeting in Independence.
The properties in question are the sites of three County landfills.
The County believes it has the right to force a sale of the land by invoking “eminent domain” (the taking of private property for public use) in order to protect the public health and welfare.
According to Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio, lease restrictions imposed by LADWP have made the County’s “ability to manage its landfills tenuous at best.”
As Assistant County Administrator Rick Benson said in his presentation Tuesday, the state requires that counties show they have a 15-year waste management plan in place.
Los Angeles was only willing to offer a three-year lease extension at the Sunland Landfill outside Bishop—an extension that was signed by the County earlier this year. Landfills in Independence and Lone Pine are currently operating without leases.
The Sunland lease also includes a 180-day termination without cause provision.
Hardly a provision which would encourage long-term planning.
Further, Benson said the new lease more than tripled the County’s rent, and with Bishop’s landfill having 99 years of useful life remaining, Benson said it makes logical sense for the County to own the facility instead of leasing it.
Benson estimated closing the three existing landfills and then opening a new landfill would cost $17 million, provided the County could find a suitable site.
According to Carunchio, the County first approached LADWP about condemning the properties in March, offering to have LADWP join the County in a tour/appraisal of the landfill sites.
In May, the County, based upon independent appraisals, offered to purchase the 119-acre Bishop Sunland Landfill site for $297,000, the 61-acre Lone Pine landfill site for $91,000 and the 89-acre Independence landfill site for $134,000.
In July, LADWP rejected these offers, pending its own appraisals, which it suggested Inyo County should pay for. The letter did say, “LADWP is willing to participate in good faith discussions regarding the future of the Landfill properties.”
On Monday, a day before the hearing, Murphy and Evertz, a law firm retained by the city of Los Angeles, submitted an eight-page letter to the County.