September 2020.

County Cease and Desist Order Ignored

By Tina Richards


Chandler Rio Santiago, the operator of the dumpsite on Santiago Canyon Road, and property owner Milan Capital have, to date, ignored county requests to give up their recently issued waste disposal permit and cease all debris stockpiling. For years, the City of Orange has refused to address the zoning code violations there and has allowed Milan to expand without oversight.

The county’s Local Enforcement Agency (LEA), an arm of CalRecycle, had issued a permit for what it called an “Inert Debris
Type A disposal facility” on June 22. Soon after the permit was issued, the Orange Park Association fi led an appeal, asking
for a public hearing on the LEA’s decision.

The appeal letter, written by Attorney John Edgcomb, challenged the validity of the permit and claimed the LEA had handled
Chandler/Milan’s application incorrectly. A major fl aw, he pointed out, was CalRecycle’s determination that the site was mainly “processing” (recycling) material. As such, it was required to be on the City of Orange’s Non Disposal Facility Element (NDFE), which details a municipality’s recycling treatment, instead of the county’s “Siting Element,” which covers planned solid waste facilities and landfills.

Pile it on
LEA had, after numerous inspections of the property, labeled it a “disposal facility” and issued a permit for that use,  contingent on the city’s amendment to its Non Disposal Facility Element. LEA and CalRecycle subsequently left it up to the city to “complete the process” and amend its NDEF to include the East Orange dump site (see story, page 2).

“By definition, a disposal facility cannot be a nondisposal facility,” Edgcomb wrote in his July 22 letter. “Both CalRecycle and LEA should know the disposal facility cannot be added to the NDFE.”

Chandler’s application itself reports that the site “imports and stockpiles material to be used for grading purposes. At this time, Chandler Rio Santiago will not be crushing material.” That self-defined activity translates into “landfill.”

Edgcomb argued that as a landfill, the site must be listed on the county’s Siting Element. That process, he noted, requires an Environmental Impact Report and a public hearing. It must also be authorized within a city’s General Plan, a “proper Conditional Use Permit,” must be obtained and “the use of the adjacent land to the property be compatible with a landfill.”

Can’t do that here
None of those conditions apply, or appear to have been considered by the property owner, the waste operator or the City of Orange.

The appeal letter also noted other deficiencies in the permit application, ranging from no environmental mitigation plan; no
reclamation plan, cost analysis or financial assurances (all required); an understatement (by half) of how many acres will be
used for stockpiling; no indication of the types and daily quantities of waste to be received; or a daily maintenance plan.

The county LEA apparently agreed with the points made by the attorney. His letter was dispatched to the county and Cal-
Recycle on July 22. On July 23, Chandler, Milan and the City of Orange received notice from LEA requesting a “voluntary surrender” of the permit for the Inert Debris Type A Disposal Facility.

LEA’s request was based on an “incomplete application,” in that the site is not identified on the “appropriate countywide Siting Element as opposed to Non Disposal Facility Element, because the site is a disposal facility.” The letter also noted that Chandler Rio Santiago had checked the box in the application indicating the facility was identified in either the county siting element or the city’s NDFE. LEA’s approval of the application was “on the basis of certain emails between you, your agent and government entities indicating that the site was to be identified in the appropriate county/city planning documents.”

Radio silence
Chandler/Milan were asked to reply to LEA within five days, surrender the permit and cease operations on the site within 15
days.

Neither Chandler Rio Santiago or Milan Capital responded. On Aug. 3, LEA sent a final “notice and order to cease and desist” immediately. The agency demanded “valid documents demonstrating the site is identified on the appropriate
planning document” before operations resumed. It gave Chandler one year to comply. Failing that, LEA ordered the operator
to submit a plan to remove all material collected on-site by Sept. 1, 2021 and to remove all of it to an “authorized site” by September 2022. Failure to act could trigger civil penalties.

Chandler/Milan were given 15 days to appeal. Instead of responding, they continued to accept construction waste.

On Aug. 11, LEA sent another letter. This one, an “intent to revoke registration permit.” The agency wrote that since its July
23 and Aug. 3 cease and desist orders, “the LEA witnessed and has credible information about the fact that the facility has continued accepting and disposing material.”

The continued activity was “cause for revocation of the permit.” Chandler/Milan were given 15 days to request a hearing on
the LEA decision.