Plan Dropped for Truck Driving School on Open Space Zoned Land

By Rick Orlov, Daily News Staff Writerhttp://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_18657582
City officials announced Wednesday they had dropped an ambitious, 5-year-old plan to create a truck driving academy atop a portion of the closed Lopez Canyon Landfill.

After a closed-door meeting, the City Council decided to not appeal a judge’s ruling that would have required the city to perform a full environmental impact review for use of the 1.5 acre site.

“We were hoping the court would have said our mitigated negative declaration would have been fine with a few fixes,” said Councilman Richard Alarcón. “But when the court said we would need a full environmental review, it wasn’t worth pursuing.”

Alarcón said the two main groups behind the proposal – the Teamsters Union and El Proyecto del Barrio – have decided to open the academy in South Los Angeles instead.

“The shame of it is that a number of Valley residents who could have used the academy to be trained as truck drivers won’t have that chance now,” Alarcón said.

A homeowners group, the Community Alliance for Open Space, had filed suit to challenge the academy. Representatives of that organization could not be reached late Wednesday.

However, alliance member Marlene Rader previously said the court ruling validated their argument that the city needed to provide more details about the project.

The plan called for the academy to be located at the site for two years to provide driver training.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich had joined in the opposition, sending out letters questioning all aspects of the city’s proposal.

He said he was pleased with the city decision to drop the academy plans.

“This is a clear victory for the residents and neighborhood councils who would have been impacted negatively by the truck traffic and pollution associated with this absurd proposal,” Antonovich said.

“The city’s misguided efforts to use this open space for a truck driving school would have set a precedent threatening other open space, including the Santa Monica Mountains, the Rim of the Valley and the Chatsworth Reservoir, threatening them with future development.”

Antonovich had been able to get the Board of Supervisors also to oppose the project.

When the project was originally announced in 2006, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with Alarcón in promoting the project as a way to train up to 24 drivers over a four-week period to allow them to get jobs in the trucking industry.

Lopez Canyon is a 600-acre site of what was once a landfill. There are still operations involving 60 to 100 trucks a day in other areas of the site.

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