Statement by LADWP General Manager David H. Wright Regarding Eminent Domain Proceedings by Inyo County on Los Angeles-Owned Land Leased for Landfill Operations
Earlier today, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors moved to proceed with the condemnation of City of Los Angeles land where Bishop-Sunland, Independence and Lone Pine landfills are located despite the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) willingness to sell the properties to the County. The Inyo County Board rejected LADWP’s input and moved to proceed with the condemnation action despite the legal deficiencies in the County’s eminent domain justification.
LADWP is currently leasing the three properties to Inyo County for landfill uses. Los Angeles asked the Inyo County Board to delay the condemnation process to further negotiate the sale. As part of the sale proposal, the City of Los Angeles will maintain water rights to the land, consistent with the Los Angeles City Charter, but continue providing water to Inyo County to operate the Bishop-Sunland landfill; Independence and Lone Pine’s water needs are provided by local water service connections.
As the landowner, LADWP has had particular concerns regarding the management of the Bishop-Sunland Landfill which is unlined, fails to meet current regulatory standards, and can negatively impact the watershed. Since 1993, Inyo County has received over 2,500 violations from the State of California for poor landfill operations. To help address these issues, lease terms for the landfill were written to protect the land and the watershed. Though Inyo County agreed to those terms, it now seeks to take control of the property through condemnation and operate the landfill under its own oversight.
LADWP maintains that the landfill must be operated with the appropriate measures to protect the land and the safety of the watershed. We will continue to protect the water and LA’s water rights regardless of the ownership of the land. As such, we intend to fully participate in Inyo County’s eminent domain proceedings, ensure proper appraisal of the land, and safeguard environmental and water protections through appropriate environmental documentation. We will also continue to pursue negotiations of the sale of the landfills.
As a much better long term solution, LADWP continues to urge Inyo County to consider the mutually beneficial solution of building a modern landfill that meets all current standards outside of the Owens River watershed. This will ensure that Inyo County has a well-operated waste disposal site, while continuing to safeguard public health, safety, and the environment.