Hands off private enterprise
The city should not compete with private sector recyclers
By Warren Swil 04/25/2013
The almost year-long moratorium on new privately operated recycling centers in Pasadena is wrongheaded and misguided.
The planet is warming — faster than anyone predicted. Our Earth cannot wait almost a year for action, however small it may be.
We need it yesterday.
As reported April 17 by André Coleman in the Pasadena Weekly, the Pasadena City Council voted April 8 to extend a previous six-week ban on new private recycling centers by almost a year.
The ordinance was adopted as a matter of urgency, because the city had concluded “… that there is a current and immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare …”
This doesn’t square with the reason given to the Weekly by a member of the City Council. He cited the need for a “study.”
Councilman Victor Gordo reportedly said, “This is simply a review …” of the issues surrounding the centers — including crime.
How many more “studies” are needed before we all become toast?
You need go no further than the Weekly of Aug. 16, 2012 to find the answer. In “The Heat Is On,” reporter Logan Nakyanzi Pollard tells us of a recent research project on climate change in the Los Angeles region by researchers at UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.
According to the study, “Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region,” in 30 to 40 years Pasadena will be warmer — much warmer!
“We find that by the mid-21st century, the most likely warming [in the Los Angeles area] is roughly 4.6 degrees [Fahrenheit] averaged over the region’s land areas,” the study concludes.
If you think that’s not much, it’s huge.
Just consider this: Your body temperature is normally at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If it rises to 99 degrees, you feel a bit off, maybe stay home from work or school. If it goes to 100, you take lots of medication and lie in bed aching and sweating.
At 102, you’re on your way to the emergency room.
Our planet is the same way. Its average temperature is between about 57 and 59 degrees. If the average rises just four degrees, that is a 6 percent increase.
The rise in sea level alone — although it might not create beachfront property on Colorado Boulevard — would be devastating.
The 100-year wind events like the one we experienced in November 2011 would come every 20 years. Drought would be extreme; so would floods.
Many scientists believe we already are at the tipping point. Soon, if it’s not yet too late, the rise in global average temperature will become irreversible.
And Councilman Gordo thinks it’s OK to wait another year for more recycling centers in Pasadena?
One of the issues Gordo wants the city to study is the incidence of crime in the neighborhoods surrounding the private recycling centers.
According to the Weekly, a mere 47 calls to police were made about petty misdemeanors at two of the centers since 2010. That’s just 15 per year.
The city’s population (not counting Altadena and other nearby municipalities) is about 138,000.
Do the math.
Does crime near recycling centers sound like a problem?
Some reportedly believe the city is trying — by extending the ban — to do an end run around the private entrepreneurs who currently pay cash for recyclables and do so at a profit.
By putting them out of business, the city may add significantly to the $340,000 it made last year out of its curbside recycling program.
This would be unconscionable.
The city has absolutely no business competing in any way with private enterprise. In fact, the reverse is true: It should be doing everything it can to encourage it, especially when the benefits are so apparent, both locally and globally.
Let’s hope the council comes to its senses and lifts — or at the very least, shortens — the moratorium.
Warren Swil is an assistant professor of journalism at Pasadena City College. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at swil.com.