Filling the Metaphysical Landscape
B.A., Asian Studies Cornell University 1999
Submitted to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of
Master in City Planning at the
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
© 2002 Chikako Sassa. All Rights Reserved.
Sassa uses the Chiquita Canyon Landfill as a case study of disconnect between landfill management and the individuals directly affected by it.
“Currently a gap exists between the regulatory, technocratic approach to managing a municipal landfill and the unofficial narratives of the people who live near the landfill and face a multitude of unpleasant effects in their everyday lives. This fracture between “official” truth and empirical reality stems from divergent construals of landfills as enclosed compartments from the perspective of planners and policy makers on one hand, and as dynamic, multidimensional,
even threatening elements in the landscape from the perspective of local residents on the other. Understanding this fracture will provide cues for modifying current planning practice to become more inclusive and responsive to local voice. Working from a case study of Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the community of Val Verde in Valencia, California, my thesis investigates ways to mend this fracture by examining cultural and symbolic artifacts indicative of the community’s relationship to the landfill, and suggesting how this qualitative knowledge could then be linked to the practice of environmental planning. My qualitative research included inputs from a series of open-ended interviews, a stakeholder workshop, site visits, and drawings made by children and adults of their conception of the Val Verde landscape. I advocate for the endorsement of a more humanistic approach to planning by visiting sites, meeting the people, and incorporating nontraditional methods of data collection to augment quantitative data generated by environmental impact assessments and cost-benefit analyses in current environmental planning practice. As a new way to frame environmental justice issues regarding landfills, I suggest the possibility of creating a “trashshed” framework to regulate the input/output flow of trash in a given area.”