The Santa Monica Waste Transfer Station will finally be enclosed when a new facility is built to replace it. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — The future of the City Yards could hold less noise and odor for its neighbors.

Those are the plans for a new Resource Recovery Center that will be located at the southern end of the City Yards off Michigan Avenue, housing a new self-haul facility, buy-back center, expanded transfer station and hazardous household waste facility.

The proposal, which was presented to the City Council on Tuesday, represents a piece of a private/public partnership entered last year between City Hall, Southern California Disposal and the Allan Company for the latter two to provide transfer and recycling services, respectively. The construction cost for the Resource Recovery Center was not available in the city staff report from the council meeting as officials are assessing a capital financing plan for the project.

The new center will come with various mitigation measures, including covering various facilities that currently operate without a roof, and a new soundwall with landscape to provide a buffer for residents at the Mountain View Mobile Home Park.

“We are essentially proposing a much more aesthetic and functional site plan that will greatly improve efficiency without increasing tonnage that is entering this site,” Lee Swain, the public works director for City Hall, said.

Under the proposal, Southern California Disposal will expand its existing 9,600-square-foot transfer station to the north to accommodate the city’s transfer needs. While the floor area will increase, the total tonnage limit will remain at 1,056 tons a day, allowing the company to achieve a higher diversion rate — meaning trash not going to landfills — thanks to a greater sorting area coupled with a more efficient storage system.

A new self-haul facility will be located east of the transfer station, receiving items such as construction materials and green waste. It would also serve as backup for the transfer station.

The buy-back center will be an open-air operation that will have a separate public access driveway off Delaware Avenue. A modular building will accompany the buy-back center, conducting cash transactions. The hazardous waste facility will also be accessed off Delaware Avenue.

Approximately 4 acres are used for recycling and waste processing at the yards today.

The project has drawn concerns from the Pico Neighborhood where residents have claimed environmental injustice from the I-10 Freeway and the City Yards.

Maria Loya, the co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association, said that while she is appreciative of the effort to improve the facility, she called on officials to ensure that there is an adequate environmental impact assessment of the site, claiming that there is a “cancer cluster” at the Mountain View Mobile Home Park where more than 10 residents have died or are suffering from the disease in the past 10-15 years.

“In a city that prides itself on being environmentally responsible, we must not forget the most vulnerable segments of our community — the poor and the elderly,” she said. “I believe that being environmentally responsible should go beyond whether a building is green or not. I believe being environmentally responsible should also include being responsible and protecting the residents of these kinds of developments.”

The project will go for LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — designation, which is awarded for green buildings. Councilmembers urged that the property be as sustainable as possible.

“We are already talking about this being a showpiece for children to come and tour and learn about recycling,” Councilman Richard Bloom said. “There is an opportunity with the flat roofs and the size of the site and the large blacktop areas and just the versatility of the site to be thinking about photovoltaic panels and all kinds of stormwater controls and runoff measures.”

The project will be presented at a community workshop followed by an Architectural Review Board hearing in January. It’s scheduled to open in February 2012.

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