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Sending the message that Los Angeles is serious about getting out of Sunshine Canyon Landfill, the City Council voted Friday to support diverting 600 tons of trash daily to dumps in Riverside and Kings counties, even though it would cost nearly $2 million more a year. The council’s 10-1 vote is at odds with its decision last week to tentatively approve a five-year, $157 million contract to send all the city’s residential trash – some 3,600 tons daily – to Sunshine Canyon in Granada Hills. But city leaders are still negotiating with Browning-Ferris Industries, Sunshine Canyon’s owner, which previously warned that it would send rates soaring if the city sends trash to other dumps. BFI officials reportedly are willing to let Los Angeles divert less than 600 tons. Councilman Greig Smith, the leading proponent for getting out of Sunshine Canyon, said Friday’s vote would help the city in the final days of negotiations. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “This gives BFI a strong signal,” Smith said. “We’re not backing away. (The 600 tons) is a non-negotiable item.” Diverting 600 tons of trash to remote landfills is considered a crucial first step in Los Angeles’ plan to end its use of Sunshine Canyon within five years. Officials also hope to increase recycling and develop trash-to-energy plants. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he is willing to spend more money to divert some trash from Sunshine Canyon, reversing his position from last summer when he pushed the council to renew the five-year contract with BFI because of the potential cost increase. “He would like to see up to 600 tons diverted. The issue is whether they are going to be able to get to that goal,” said Joe Ramallo, spokesman for Villaraigosa. Despite Friday’s vote, some council members remain concerned about the extra cost and the air-quality issues involved with hauling trash to remote dumps – up to 360 miles, round trip, each day. Councilman Jack Weiss, who cast the dissenting vote, said the additional $1.9 million needed to send trash elsewhere could instead be used to hire up to 19 more police officers. “We should be guarding the city treasury and doing our fiduciary duty. Whatever we do should be cost-neutral.” But Councilman Tony Cardenas said the council should stick by the policy it adopted last summer, which is to increase recycling and end its use of Sunshine Canyon. “We talk a lot, but we act with our votes,” he said. “It’s time we act on what we’ve been talking about.” The key sticking point has been cost. Under the city’s current contract with BFI, Los Angeles must send all its trash to Sunshine Canyon to get the $25-per-ton price, which totals $29 million per year. BFI has warned that if the city diverts trash to other landfills, the per-ton price could jump to $45, raising the annual cost by roughly $14 million. With its vote Friday, the council endorsed proposals to send 600 tons to El Sobrante Landfill in Corona and Avenal Landfill in Kings County. El Sobrante is about 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles and Avenal is 180 miles north. That could cost the city an estimated $1.6 million to $1.9 million per year, assuming that the city can reach a deal with BFI. Earlier this week, the Bureau of Sanitation outlined how the city could meet the City Council’s newly approved policy to divert all 3,600 tons of trash away from Sunshine Canyon over five years. Starting in July, some 600 tons would go to El Sobrante or Avenal. Next year, the city plans to launch two pilot programs aimed at recycling an additional 1,000 tons of trash per day. One project would improve curbside recycling rates by educating people on what goes into the blue bin and offering financial incentives to good recyclers. The other program would allow residents to recycle food waste in their green waste can. In 2008, the city would offer those programs citywide to recycle an additional 1,000 tons each day. Then in 2009, the Bureau of Sanitation hopes to develop a waste-to-energy plant that would take the rest of the city’s trash. Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!