LATEST STATUS OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT BKK
Recap: Our agenda for the BKK landfills and adjacent lands is: 1) Public health, 2) Open space, 3) Environmental justice.
We are not anti-development. We believe development should be suited to the land. Intensive development on or adjacent to the Class I landfill at BKK is entirely inappropriate – an understatement.
The Class I landfill at BKK is an unlined, toxic hazardous waste landfill covering 195 acres and up to 595 feet deep. It is still considered one of California’s most dangerous landfills. Most of the toxic hazardous waste disposed of at BKK was liquid toxic waste disposed of by directly pumping it on to the ground and then covering it with a layer of municipal trash. That practice continued nearly daily for 12 years. According to the California Department to Toxic Substances Control the Class I landfill at BKK contains over 5 million tons of toxic hazardous waste.
Hotels or other forms of intensive development do not belong next to unlined, toxic hazardous waste landfills.
"A Brief History of the BKK Landfill" is published. Until now, there hasn't been a single document that tells the story of how the landfill actually came to be, was eventually closed, the efforts to limit seepage of its contents, and the attempts today to move past its toxic legacy. Originally planned as a 4,500 home housing development with a park, a golf course, and a cemetery - decades later this land became California's largest hazardous waste landfill.
June 13, 2022: An interview with Brian Jobst, co-founder of Livable West Covina, about the BKK Landfill is now available at Talk to Us West Covina. It's also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible.com, and Amazon Music.
The interview is episode "002-The History of the BKK Landfill-Brian Jobst".
April 19, 2022: The state of California issued notice of the first 17 new cost settlements associated with the toxic hazardous waste landfill.
Since 2004 about $219 million have been spent on “response actions” at the BKK landfill. These response actions are primarily the installation, operations and maintenance of safety systems at and around the landfill. An example of such a system is the one that extracts and processes landfill gas.
Up until now the response actions to keep that landfill safe have mostly been paid for by the largest “Potentially Responsible Parties” or PRPs. PRPs is the legal term used for those that actually disposed of hazardous waste at BKK. For the BKK landfill there are about 60 large PRPs.
However, an additional 11,000 PRPs also disposed of toxic hazardous waste at BKK in smaller volumes - volumes of less than 4,000 tons each.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control has now begun pursuing cost recovery from those 11,000 PRPs. The most recent notice is the proposed settlement agreement with the first 17 of them. Collectively those 17 will pay $11.9 million to keep the BKK landfill safe.
September 30, 2021: Newspaper article in the San Gabriel Valley Examiner about the $869 million preliminary cost estimate for the remediation of the hazardous waste landfill at BKK.
July 2, 2021: Singpoli’s Hotel Constance in Pasadena is bankrupt, in foreclosure, and up for sale. This is the same Singpoli that sought to build “an international destination hotel” at the BKK landfills in West Covina.
In this Pasadena Now article Mr. William Chu, who is the hotel’s acting assistant general manager is mentioned. In 2019 Mr. Chu was the Chief Financial Officer of Singpoli. In city sponsored meetings here in West Covina, Mr. Chu repeatedly assured West Covina, Walnut and other residents of Singpoli’s financial stability and deep pockets…
For Livable West Covina one of our concerns about the “Landfill Hotel” was the project's financial viability and risk of failure. Our concern was that $200+ million price tag for the Landfill Hotel might be beyond Singpoli’s financial capabilities and the worst case scenario would be a partially built hotel that became abandoned by Singpoli leaving the city of West Covina and its residents to deal with and pay for the mess.
We were fortunate when, in October 2020 Singpoli failed to close escrow and complete the purchase of the city owned land at BKK for their hotel.
June 6, 2021: Livable West Covina sends a letter to the City of West Covina. It requests the City understand the risks associated with fireworks at the Sportsplex at BKK and consult with their insurance carrier.
April 23, 2021: The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) officially updates the total amount of toxic hazardous waste buried at BKK. Records indicate that more than 5 million tons were disposed of at BKK and not 3.4 million tons.
The updated amount is the result of work to support the recently announced initiative to pursue compensation from parties that were de minimis users of BKK - parties that dumped less than 4,000 tons. The BKK Working Group and DTSC are leading that initiative.
Preparation work for that initiative involved considerable effort validating dumping records...which resulted in the knowledge that more than 5 million tons of toxic hazardous waste are buried at BKK.
This link can be used to receive updates regarding BKK directly from the DTSC
April 17, 2021: The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) releases and mails to residents near BKK a Community Update. The central elements of the update are:
1) The DTSC and BKK Working Group will begin an initiative to collect funds from parties that dumped 4,000 or less tons of toxic, hazardous waste at BKK. This includes more than 11,000 parties. The funds will primarily finance additional public health and safety measures at BKK such as those resulting from the analysis and study described below.
2) The EE/CA continues on. This is the Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis. It is being used to determine what additional work must be performed on the primary safety systems at BKK to protect public health and the environment. Those primary safety systems are: the caps & covers on the landfills, the landfill gas system, and the contaminated groundwater system.
3) The RI/FS also continues on. This is the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study. This Study is specifically focused on groundwater contamination. The results will provide updated information about the extent of groundwater contamination from BKK and what resulting actions are needed, if any.
March 6, 2021: Livable West Covina sends a letter to developer M&A Gabaee. It encourages Gabaee to begin contacting the 8 BKK regulators in order that Gabaee can consider all the unique development costs at the landfills including those necessary to protect public health and safety as well as the environment and nearby sensitive ecological areas including Galster Park.
January 25, 2021: Based on a request under the California Public Records Act, the city of West Covina releases images of an Industrial Park at the BKK landfills. The Industrial Park is being planned by developer M&A Gabaee, also known as The Charles Company. The location of the Industrial Park is near Big League Dreams and nearby homes.
December 1, 2020: Singpoli, the hotel developer failed to close escrow by the required deadline, which was October 31, 2020. The land sale did not occur. West Covina's City Council, city senior staff, and Singpoli have all refused to disclose why the land sale did not close.
August 29, 2020: Letter to Singpoli (the developer) making the case that their investors' and lenders' funds would be better spent elsewhere in West Covina resulting in a higher and more certain return on investment - detailed specifics provided in the letter.
August 6, 2020: Mr. Mike Miller, the city of West Covina's retired Director of Environmental Services, sends a letter to Mr. Kin Hui, the CEO of Singpoli directly informing him of contamination, geologic and seismic instability, and other issues associated with the land at BKK. This is the land where Singpoli is considering building an "international destination hotel."
July 21, 2020: In a 4 to 1 vote the West Covina city council extends the Sales Agreement with Singpoli (hotel developer) for 90 days. Singpoli has until the end of October 2020 to buy the land at BKK. This extension is noteworthy because the city council broke the promise it had repeatedly made to residents since late 2016; that is, no land sale at BKK to any party would occur without a complete environmental review and a development agreement in force. With the extension of the Sale Agreement, the city council removed these requirements and made the land sale simply "as-is". Prior to the vote by the council 280 persons asked the council NOT to do the extension. No one spoke in favor of extending the Sales Agreement.
April 12, 2020: Letter sent to the city of West Covina asking what emergency plan(s) it has for BKK given foreseeable public health issues at and around the site.
January 30, 2020: Letter from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to the city of West Covina stating that BKK is "an on-going health threat" and detailing serious problems with how the city has handled the possible sale of city owned land at BKK to Singpoli; also reminding the city it can be sued by the DTSC and other parties if the city fails to meet its obligations at BKK.
August 30, 2019: Letter from the California Department of Recycling Resources and Recovery (CalRecycle) informing the city of West Covina of inadequacies of the current landfill has monitoring system at BKK and occasions when measured concentrations of landfill gas have exceeded regulatory limits.
August 1, 2019: The city of West Covina and Singpoli sign a tentative Sales Agreement – the 134 acres of city-owned land directly adjacent to the unlined, toxic hazardous waste landfill can be sold only if many “statutory and regulatory conditions” are met.
Most of the agreement is unremarkable, but it does contain a couple of surprises:
1) All legal costs will be paid by Singpoli. If any party files a lawsuit or otherwise legally challenges what Singpoli is trying to do, Singpoli foots the bill - and not the city of West Covina. In our opinion this means residents don’t need to worry about our city incurring any legal expenses associated with any party challenging Singpoli’s proposed hotel.
2) If the sale occurs, Singpoli has agreed to assume responsibility for any consequences of environmental contamination of any kind on the 134 acres “regardless of when or how it was deposited or came to be present on the Property”. Consequences listed include "damage to any property, injuries to or deaths of persons”.
In our opinion this means that the city of West Covina has completely absolved itself any responsibility to its residents in the future. If the land sale occurs, you will not have any grounds on which to ask the city for anything - no help, no compensation, no restitution, no assistance of any kind.
May 21, 2019: At this West Covina city council meeting residents showed up in force and spoke up against Singpoli's proposed intensive development directly next to the unlined toxic hazardous waste landfill at BKK. Every speaker, except two spoke against Singpoli's proposed Landfill Hotel. It's on YouTube and worth watching! Public comments begin 7 minutes and 45 seconds into the video and ends a 1 hour and 5 minutes: Here's the link.
April 30, 2019: Just 3 business days after receiving proposals, the City of West Covina selects Singpoli's proposal for BKK. In closed session, the City Council directs the interim City Manager to prepare a draft Letter Of Intent and Escrow Agreement between Singpoli Group LLC and the City of West Covina to proceed with a 400 room hotel directly next to the Class I (toxic hazardous waste) landfill at BKK.
March 21, 2019: The City of West Covina released a Request For Proposal (RFP) for BKK inviting parties to submit proposals for land on and adjacent to the landfills. Proposals are due back to the City by April 24, 2019. The City's key contact person for this RFP is Ms. Paulina Morales, West Covina’s Director of Economic Director at PMorales@westcovina.org
February 19, 2019: West Covina's City Council votes to direct the City Staff to prepare a Request For Proposal (RFP) for BKK. By doing so the City formally terminated its previous policy of only negotiating with a single developer, Singpoli for the purchase and development of City-owned land at BKK. The RFP will invite all parties to submit proposals with their ideas for land use at BKK. The City expects the RFP to be released around March 19, 2019.
February 5, 2019: Singpoli releases their latest conceptual plan for BKK including a 400 room hotel directly next to the Class I toxic hazardous waste landfill and solar panels on the south facing sides of the Class III mostly trash landfill.
January 2019: We shot drone footage of BKK if you'd like to see what the landfills look like today.
August 2018: This brochure sent to all mailing addresses in West Covina warning of the risks associated with developing the land on and adjacent to the BKK landfill and urging this land instead be sold to conservation interests. With trails and recreational amenities added it is ideal for a park and the preservation of wildlife and habitat.
May 2018: Sierra Club publishes an article encouraging the land adjacent to BKK be retained as open space for a park and wildlife preserve.
April 17, 2018: West Covina's City Council meeting on this date includes a Staff Report which tells the outcome of meetings recently held with 4 of the 8 regulatory agencies that have responsibilities associated with the land on and adjacent to the BKK landfill. Those 4 agencies are the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, CalRecycle, Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board, and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service. Singpoli and the City of West Covina both participated in these meetings. The regulators provided a lengthy list of issues associated with Singpoli's proposed development at BKK.
April 3, 2018: West Covina's City Manager, Mr. Chris Freeland indicates Singpoli has now signed the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) that the City Council approved on December 19, 2017. Neither Singpoli or the City provided a responsive answer to why Singpoli took well over 3 months to sign the short 7 page ENA, which was almost identical to the ENA that Singpoli operated under during 2017.
December 19, 2017: West Covina’s City Council approved a new Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) between the City and the Singpoli Group. The ENA does not commit either party to Singpoli’s proposed development, just reserves Singpoli’s exclusive right to negotiate with the City of West Covina for this land. Councilman Toma voted against the ENA; Councilmen Johnson, Warshaw and Wu as well as Mayor Spence voted in favor of the ENA.
November, 2017: Singpoli presented its proposed development plan at a City Council meeting for the land on and adjacent to BKK. Prior to this Singpoli spent about one year creating its plan without any input from the public.
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