LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Lake Balboa residents say a giant pile of asphalt near the Van Nuys airport is causing respiratory problems in their community.
Residents such as Jamie Holzhauer say dust from the pile disperses into their neighborhood during periods of strong winds, particularly during Santa Ana wind events.
“After a windy day I literally feel like I’ve smoked a pack of cigarettes,” Holzhauer said. “And I’m a non-smoker of 20 years.”
The pile sits in a city yard and is estimated to be about 20 feet tall and the length of a football field. It is comprised of reclaimed pavement that is sent to plants to be recycled into hot asphalt mix.
Residents have long called the mound an eyesore, and also complained of the material dispersing into swimming pools and onto porches.
Now, many of those residents are increasingly concerned about their health.
“I don’t have any pre-existing lung problems, but I came down with one of the worst illnesses I’ve had in my life,” Holzhauer’s son, Brandon, said. “I was coughing up blood.”
In 2014, the LA City Council voted to cover the pile with a tarp and stop new deliveries of crushed pavement.
But residents say the cover blows off when the Santa Ana winds pick up.
“Every time the Santa Ana winds blow, the cover comes off,” Lake Balboa resident James Brown said.
The city told CBS2’s Craig Herrera it is planning to reduce the size of the pile.
But Holzhauer and other residents are urging the city to remove the giant pile altogether.
“It’s still there,” Holzhauer said. “It’s still on all of our porches and we can’t get rid of it.”