Inyo Supervisors face landfill decision today

By Deb Murphy
Inyo County’s Board of Supervisors really don’t have much of a choice today as they vote on a new three-year landfill lease agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The first two years, the rate stays at $4,900; in the final year it jumps to $22,637. But, the County needs a new permit increasing the daily weight restrictions or face $10,000 a day fines for exceeding the current limit. LADWP won’t sign off on the new permit until a lease is signed. Complying with the current permit would result in landfill closures each day the weight allowance is reached.
The department’s Aqueduct Manager Jim Yannotta provided the rationale behind the increase in an e-mail statement: “The new lease rate for Inyo County’s Bishop Sunland landfill has been established to reflect appropriate costs for leasing and activity on this type of facility in 2017. From 1990 to today the lease rate has been essentially unchanged. In 26 years the lease rate only went up one time ($140 per year)…. Part of the new rate accounts for tipping fees charged by the County. The tipping fee value used by LADWP in the new lease rate calculation is a very conservative amount, in fact it is lower than the County’s new tipping fees. The new rent also includes compensation for water used by the landfill provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.”
An effort to determine what other counties pay for leased land under their landfills is nearly impossible. According to Inyo’s Assistant Administrator Rick Benson, most county landfills are operated on county-owned lands.
Inyo’s Sunland landfill isn’t exactly a cash cow. According to Benson during the last months’ presentations on tipping fee adjustments (from $90 per trash hauler to $50 a ton, or $500 for a full load), the landfill loses $900,000 a year. The adjusted fees, scheduled to go into effect March 1, will bring in an additional $635,000, cutting the operations’ losses to $265,000.

13 Responses to Inyo Supervisors face landfill decision today

  1. Allen Berrey January 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    @russoloco – Three points:

    First, for the record, the “Eminent Domain Law” of California is set forth in Title 7 of the California Code of Civil Procedure; and Article 7 of Chapter 3 of that Title 7 – entitled “Condemnation for a More Necessary Public Use – expressly and specifically allows one public entity to acquire by condemnation the land of another public entity by showing it needs the land for a more necessary use.

    Second, my suggestion pertained to the land-fill dilemma confronting Inyo County described in the article, not to acquiring LADWP lands in general. I said I thought Inyo County could use this law to acquire the land underlying the landfill. LADWP is clearly not using that land for collecting and providing water to Los Angeles.To the contrary, LADWP is using it only to charge rent for its use by Inyo County as a landfill.

    Consequently, I believe Inyo County could show that its use of the land – for the actual day-today operation of the landfill – is a more necessary public use than LADWP’s mere passive ownership of that land.

    To the extent water is involved, once Inyo County acquires the land, it could drill its own well to provide water for landfill operations since at that point it would be an overlying landowner with the attendant right to extract and use the groundwater on the property (a la LADWP).

    Finally, I have suggested this strategy to the County officials but I have been ignored. Perhaps they don’t want to know – or be reminded – that the County has this power – they might be called upon to use it!


    • Randy Keller January 21, 2017 at 10:45 am #

      But Allen, let’s not forget that Inyo County would have to pay Los Angeles for the land at fair market value. Might that be a reason the County has not pursued condemnation.

      • Allen Berrey February 5, 2017 at 5:29 am #

        Thanks Randy.

        First, no one from the County has responded to my suggestion; so I cannot assume or speculate that the County has even considered this idea, let alone why it hasn’t pursued it. Did the County consider condemning the dump on your watch?

        Second, I don’t think the cost to buy the dump would be that much – its fair market value would be based initially on replacement cost, since “comps” would be hard to come by.

        And the parcels/land that the appraiser would consider and value as “replacement” land would most likely be LADWP land, zoned open space, not residential, and so its value would not be excessive.

        Moreover, that “replacement cost” value would have to be adjusted (reduced), to account for the fact that the actual land the County is seeking to buy is an aging landfill, not open, unused land; this reduction would be substantial.

        But whatever the cost, it seems to me worth it, given the financial and regulatory dilemma the County finds itself in as described in the article.


  2. russoloco January 20, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    I take my previous assertions back. It had been my understanding that public lands could not be taken by eminent domain by another public entity. Of course, if Inyo were do claim eminent domain it seems they would have the burden of proving that their public use was more beneficial than DWP’s current public use, which, is collecting and providing water to Los Angeles.

  3. russoloco January 20, 2017 at 9:23 am #

    Eminent domain applies only to PRIVATE property.

    “California eminent domain laws can be found in Title 7 of Code of Civil Procedure. Eminent domain is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for public use so long as the government pays just compensation. Pursuant to Cal Code Civ Proc § 1230.030 private property shall be taken by eminent domain only when there is a public use. Examples of “public uses” for which the government might exercise its power of eminent domain include such things as schools, roads, libraries, police stations, fire stations and similar public uses.”

  4. Philip Anaya January 20, 2017 at 7:34 am #

    From Section XV of the Inyo/ Los Angeles Long Term Water Agreement



    Inyo County, in order to provide for the future orderly development of towns within the County, has requested Los Angeles to offer for sale seventy-five (75) acres of Los Angeles-owned land within the general areas designated by the boundaries noted on the maps attached as Exhibit B. In order to cooperate with the County’s request, Los Angeles agrees to offer for sale, either at public auction or to the County for public purposes, said seventy-five (75) acres, consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles City Charter for the sale of real property. To ensure that any sales of the seventy-five (75) acres furthers the County efforts for the orderly development of the towns within Inyo County, the parties further agree to jointly confer on the location of, and the schedule for, the sale of each parcel pursuant to this paragraph. As part of such orderly development, the parties further agree that prior to the sale of any such parcels, there must be available a public water system to serve such property after its sale.

    Because the location of the proposed sale of the seventy-five (75) acres is sufficiently determined in this Stipulation and Order, by its approval of this document, Los Angeles City Council grants approval, as required by the Los Angeles City Charter, for the Board of Water and Power Commissioners to subsequently engage in the actual sale of individual parcels. The terms of each sale will be subject to approval by the Los Angeles City Council.

    The area of any property that is undeveloped as of the date of entry of this Stipulation and Order, located within the designated release areas, and sold by Los Angeles after entry of this Stipulation and Order will be credited against the seventy-five (75) acre total. Each such sale is subject to a CEQA review.


    In addition to the sales described above, Los Angeles will sell at public auction, or sell directly to the City of Bishop or the Bishop Community Redevelopment Agency, properties within the Bishop City limits totaling twenty-six (26) acres of surplus Los Angeles-owned land. Such sales are subject to the Los Angeles City Charter. The location of each property and the schedule for sale must be agreed upon by the City of Bishop and Los Angeles. Each parcel sold must be located within general areas designated by boundaries on the attached map. Authorization to sell up to twenty-six (26) acres of surplus properties within designated release areas is granted by the Los Angeles City Council by its approval of this Stipulation and Order. By this approval, the Department’s Board of Water and Power Commissioners is authorized to act on behalf of the City in approving and conducting such sales. However, the terms of each sale will be subject to approval by the Los Angeles City Council. Each sale is subject to a CEQA review. Nothing in these concepts precludes the City of Los Angeles and the City of Bishop from reaching an agreement for the sale of all or part of the twenty-six (26) acres prior to entry of this Stipulation and Order. Any land so sold will be credited against the twenty-six (26) acre total.


    In addition to the above described sales, upon request of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors or the Bishop City Council, Los Angeles shall negotiate in good faith for the sale at public auction of additional surplus Los Angeles-owned land in or near valley towns for specific identified needs. Any such sales shall occur subsequent to those described above. A precondition of a sale would be that a public water system must be available to serve each property after its sale. Each such sale would be subject to a CEQA review. It is recognized that such sales at public auction may take considerable time, and that such sales require approval of the Department’s Board and the Los Angeles City Council, and must be in compliance with the Los Angeles City Charter. Decisions on this matter by the Department’s Board of Commissioners and the Los Angeles City Council shall not be subject to dispute resolution.


    Los Angeles shall negotiate in good faith for the sale or lease to the County of any Los Angeles-owned land requested by the County for use as a public park or for other public purposes. Any sale of land shall be at fair market value and any land sold must be within or adjacent to valley towns.


    Because of the above provisions for land releases, Inyo County will support passage of withdrawn land legislation pertaining to federally owned lands in Inyo County. Such legislation is to be in substantially the same form as the draft of such legislation discussed by the parties in the fall of 1987, except that the proposed legislation will be modified to allow lands in Rose Valley which might be used in conjunction with a groundwater storage program to remain in withdrawn status. The County will support such legislation even though the status of such withdrawn lands is under review by the Federal Bureau of Land Management as part of the new Bishop Resources Area Management Plan.

  5. russoloco January 18, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Eminent domain can’t be used to take land from one government agency to another.

    • Allen Berrey January 19, 2017 at 8:05 am #

      @russoloco – I cited authority for my proposition; please cite yours.

      In doing so, please consider this language in CCP section 1240.650(b) and explain why the legislature would feel the need to enact that section if your proposition was correct:

      “(b) Where property has been appropriated to public use by a public entity, the use thereof by the public entity is a more necessary use than any use to which such property may be put by any person other than a public entity.”

      See also CCP section 1240.690(a) “Acquisition for State Highway Purposes.”

      And are you saying Caltrans can’t acquire a county road via eminent domain?


      • Philip Anaya January 20, 2017 at 7:03 am #

        Reasonable approaches to Inyo County and the City of Los Angeles relations do not yield reasonable results for the Eastern Sierra. At every turn the City has a stranglehold on the Eastern Sierra. It is time to pursue an on going and active legal approach to every issue including this great idea of eminent domain and we could further approach the City of Los Angeles with a good public trust lawsuit to begin to address the abuses of the City that limits our rights in Inyo County to our own self determination.

    • sugarmags January 19, 2017 at 8:42 am #

      You are 100% mistaken russo. Eminent domain can be used against govt agencies (not the federal govt though), and is used more often than people realize.

      Given that LADWP owns so much land in our area, using eminent domain to acquire land for public uses is a reasonable action that should be employed more often by Inyo County. They can even play hard ball and get water rights through condemnation, which LADWP is vehemently opposed to.

  6. Allen Berrey January 18, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    Actually a practical solution exists: Inyo County could acquire the underlying land from LADWP – and be free of LADWP’s rent and restrictions on the landfill – by exercising its power of eminent domain under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1240.610 et seq.

    That law allows one public entity to condemn the land of another public entity by showing it needs the land “for [a] more necessary public use.”

    I think the County could successfully use this provision to acquire the landfill – it could prove in court that its operation of the landfill is a “more necessary public use” than LADWP’s mere ownership of the underlying land.


    • Trouble January 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

      That sounds like a great idea. I’m all for pissing off DWP. They earned it. But do you think our Supervisors have the guts?

  7. Trouble January 18, 2017 at 4:33 am #

    We have a choice. Tell DWP no. They don’t own all the cheap land in Inyo County. Give them their poisoned field back and find a new site. It’s time to send DWP a message.


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