From the Daily News;
Despite community opposition and a legal challenge, the city Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a truck-driving academy on 1.5 acres atop the closed Lopez Canyon landfill.
The action clears the way for the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to sign off on the plan to allow for a five-year lease on the site to train big-rig drivers.
Neighbors oppose the plan, proposed in 2008, saying they believe the landfill was supposed to be preserved as open space after it was closed.
“What we see is that this will be a precedent to get away from the promise that this land would be open space,” said Linda Joyce Hornick, who has lived in Lake View Terrace since 1988. She added that she was concerned it could open the door for other uses on the site.
But Councilman Richard Alarcón, who joined with the mayor in proposing the project, said the school will have a minimal impact on its neighbors.
“Frankly, I don’t know why there has been so much opposition to this,” Alarcón said.
“It’s more than two miles from any homes and it is only eight more trucks on the site that has more than 100 trucks a day coming in.”
The daily truck traffic is for the mulching and compost facility on the site.
Residents have joined together in a group called Community Alliance for Open Space to file a lawsuit challenging the city’s approval of the school.
The suit says the city should have completed a full environmental impact report for the school and should not have been allowed to approve it with a simple zoning variance.
No hearing date for the suit has been set.
Local resident Vanessa May, who has spearheaded much of the opposition, said residents were promised the land would be open space after having to live for 25 years with the landfill.
“We were told this would be open space,” May said. “We have problems with the location of this academy and its impact on the area.”
County Supervisor Michael Antonovich also opposes the academy, saying it “is a mockery” of the promise made to residents when the landfill was closed.
City officials argue the school is needed to train 200 to 300 drivers a year for one of the region’s fastest-growing industries.
The proposed academy would be funded through a $640,000 federal grant and $100,000 from the Lopez Canyon Community Trust fund.
Aides to Alarcon said they looked for alternative sites in the area, but none matched the seclusion of the Lopez Canyon site.
Also, city officials said a number of restrictions are included on the project that will require students to be shuttled to the site and limitations on which public streets can be used for training.
In addition, the program requires that 25 percent of those in the program come from the immediate area. Jobs will be found for all those who complete the program, primarily for the city Bureau of Sanitation which needs truck drivers to replace those who took an early retirement last year.