Gordo counters claim city is squeezing out private recycling centers
By André Coleman 04/17/2013
The Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to extend a moratorium on new cash-for-recycling centers until this time next year while officials study public nuisance issues that have arisen at some of those locations.
The centers pay money for plastic and aluminum waste, which attracts vagrants and others who collect soda cans and water bottles and then redeem them at the centers. Some of those same people, however, have been the subjects of calls made to police complaining of such offenses as loitering and drinking and urinating in public.
Meanwhile, supporters of the facilities claim that the moratorium — which was initially set to expire in 45 days but was continued through next February — is just the first step in a communitywide ban that will allow the city to make more money from its curbside recycling program.
Last year, the city made $340,000 off of its curbside recycling program. As part of that program, users place recyclables in blue bins, which are then picked up and shipped off to the Allen Co. in Baldwin Park, which pays the city $50 a ton for recyclable material.
According to Perez, that amount could increase significantly if the private cash-for-recycling centers are forced to shut down, much as they were in Alhambra after city officials there updated the city’s recycling ordinance to restrict the size of private centers and their proximity to residential neighborhoods.
The Pasadena City Council voted to change its ordinance after the city began an incentives program for local residents who recycle through the city’s trash service provider.
Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said city officials will study alternatives and see what other cities have done with regard to recycling. Beck also said his office might hold community meetings to gather more opinions on the matter.
Since 2010, the Pasadena Police Department received 20 calls about loitering, public drunkenness and urinating in public at the rePlanet Recycling center, located in the Food 4 Less grocery store parking lot on the corner of North Lake Avenue and Washington Boulevard.
Similar problems at a second recycling located in the Ralph’s grocery store parking lot on the corner of Lake Avenue and Walnut Street led to 17 calls to police during that same time period.
Councilman Victor Gordo, whose district includes both locations, insisted the council’s recent action is not the first step in imposing a band on private recycling centers.
“Both my constituents and I are strong supporters of recycling,” said Gordo. “I would not support a ban on recycling centers. This is simply a review to address some of the issues that have arisen around several of them, including some criminal activity and nuisance types of issues.”
According to Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra, there have been calls for service at the remaining centers, which are located in grocery store parking lots at Renaissance Plaza on Fair Oaks Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard, Allen Avenue and Washington Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard and Rosemead Avenue.