Santa Paula Times

Proposed recycling/junk ordinance to be studied by subcommittee

March 05, 2008
Santa Paula City Council

The city’s proposed tightened restrictions on junk dealers and recyclers will be studied by a committee, after the issue was again continued following a long discussion at the February 19 meeting.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe city’s proposed tightened restrictions on junk dealers and recyclers will be studied by a committee, after the issue was again continued following a long discussion at the February 19 meeting. Tightening the city’s law was undertaken to stem the rising number of thefts involving materials that can be sold as recyclables.Santa Paula Recycling co-owner Marlene Lara, appearing without her attorney Peter Lemmon, told the Council that she “made some changes” to the proposed amendments regarding reporting and tracking. Several speakers said they deal with the recycler and also object to some aspects of the new rules, including fingerprinting those who bring in materials for recycling.Vice Mayor Ralph Fernandez said he met with the owners of Santa Paula Recycling and visited the East Harvard Boulevard facility, and Mayor Bob Gonzales noted that all Council members received the same offer, one he did not believe is appropriate as attorneys on both sides have been involved in discussions.Among changes suggested by Lara was extending the material receipt reporting time to the Santa Paula Police Department to 72 hours, and dropping the requirement to photograph recycled items.Fernandez said that he does not wish to “overburden the recyclers,” and that he encouraged Lara to craft an ordinance after he examined the city’s document, which “flabbergasted me.”Gary Taylor of Hayward Baker told the Council that the company has been in business in Santa Paula for more than 20 years, and he circulated photographs of the vandalism that occurs during copper thefts. “This results in several hundreds of thousands in damage” to obtain copper that only brings about $100 from a recycler, Taylor noted. “This is what we have to contend with,” and thieves, he added, are well aware of the existing ordinance - and how to get around same - that govern recycling, making multiple trips daily to dispose of the stolen materials.Councilman Ray Luna asked Lara about her suggested changes, and Fernandez said that there are some safety issues that must be considered if the city’s proposed ordnance was approved. “She’s in a locked office with cash,” and Fernandez said that Lara would have to leave the office regularly to photograph and otherwise document recyclables.
Thieves are a “big inconvenience to all of us, they are literally killing us,” another businessman told the Council.Mayor Bob Gonzales said he supported the ordinance as proposed by staff, “because everyone is a loser here.... It’s unfortunate that there is a segment in our society willing to get pennies on the dollar” by stealing and selling recyclables.Councilman Dr. Gabino Aguirre said the ultimate solution would meet the needs of the recyclers and law enforcement.Luna asked if the SPPD “can live with 72 hours” for transaction reporting, and Chief Steve MacKinnon said no. Transactions are documented as they occur, and 48 hours is more than ample time for reporting, he noted. “We’re open 24 hours a day” for reporting that can be done via fax, if not in person.Fernandez said his efforts are to create a team relationship between the SPPD and recyclers.Teamwork is a good suggestion, but Councilman John Procter added that businesses and individuals are being victimized by a rising number of thefts. Major companies should also be consulted said Procter, who noted that he has been contacted by those reporting material thefts ranging from trailer siding to pickers’ ladders, and “to me, it’s really alarming.”City Attorney Karl Berger said that the proposed city ordinance “requires all recyclers in town to proactively report” business transactions to the SPPD that recyclers are “already required to produce under state law.”The issue was again continued and a sub-committee formed - including Fernandez and Procter - to study the issue.