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Alhambra recycling facilities: too dirty?

"Dirty" was the most frequent explanation Alhambra government representatives gave at a heated City Council meeting this week for why they were restricting private recycling. Supporters of local cash-for-recyclying facilities felt that was not a good enough reason: they argued further closures would be bad for business, the environment, and local residents.

In an effort to alleviate some of the "noise and nuisance" that the private sites created, the city passed an ordinance in June of last year creating new restrictions which would force all of the existing sites to shut down. Out of the city's five previous sites, only two remain — one in the parking lot of Albertson's on Commonwealth Avenue and the other at Fisher's Market on Alhambra Road. At the meeting on Monday night RePlanet Recycling, which manages the Albertson's facility, appealed the ordinance.

The primary concern over the recycling centers seems to be appearance, as city officials claim that many of them are "dirty" and unsightly.  "I drove by there twice today, there must have been 10 to 15 people in line with their bags," Councilman Gary Yamauchi said about the Albertson's site. "I would rather see that shielded from the streets." Director of Community Services Mary Swink recommended that the Council deny RePlanet's request for a conditional permit to stay in its location in the Albertson's parking lot. She said the center is "detrimental to public interest, safety and health."

Albertson's store manager Michael Salinas countered that the recycling centers provide an essential service to the community since residents use them to bring in extra cash, in addition to bringing business to the store, where customers must redeem the vouchers from the recycling center. "You'd be doing a great disservice to the community," he told the Council.

Mayor Luis Ayala responded that the city might be willing to relocate the centers to industrial areas, but the future of recycling in Alhambra remains unclear. The Council decided to push any further discussion over the facilities until June 11, granting the existing facilities a temporary reprieve.

Most respondents to an Alhambra Source poll asking whether recycling-for-cash should be restricted were in favor of leaving the facilities as is. Out of 40 responses, 60% chose leave the facilities as is, and 20% supported a ban in residential areas. Take our poll and share what you think.

Do you think recycling-for-cash should be banned in Alhambra? (vote for as many solutions as you see fit)

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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8 thoughts on “Alhambra recycling facilities: too dirty?”



      Isnt Alhambra supposed to be business friendly? I guess only when it benefits them in their pockets. That site has been functioning for many yrs & now council is saying they are worried about accidents& cleanliness ? REALLY?!

      – Zlady 



  2. Driving by a recycling center and watching all those people take the time and make the effort to do something good for the planet, which in turn helps them make ends meet, makes me PROUD to be a part of the Alhambra community. Not every city provides citizens ample locations to recycle. The money some of these people earn from recycling helps them EAT during the week. Some of them don't even have the means to drive to recycling centers so they make the walk, hauling huge bags, and even picking up stray cans and bottles from the street. I would argue that recycling centers help keep Alhambra CLEAN! PLEASE DON'T GET RID OF THEM! If they are unsightly, how about cleaning them up? Personally, I think they're fine.

    With that said, I do appreciate city officials being concerned about keeping Alhambra looking good. I've always liked the look of the residential areas and it's probably something we take for granted. Hard work goes into it, so thank you!

    – Becca Vega

  3. I wonder if the city has a financial reason for their behavior. I have heard that some cities enter into contacts with the waste haulers to share the proceeds of recyclable containers collected. Then, they forcibly remove all other pay-for recycling centers from their city. This creates a monopoly and gives the city the money. Of course this hurts business ad the general public at the same time.

  4. It’s not the recycling centers that are “dirty”, it’s the seedy clientele Alhambra attracts through it’s hundreds (thousands?) of rental units.

    1. I think this might be the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen on the internet. Congratulations!

  5. I think this has nothing to do with “cleanliness”. Some parts of the city are in much worse condition than “the sight of recycling”. Most of the dirty that exists in those places would still be there even without the recycling centers. In my opinion this is just an excuse. If cleanliness was the real issue the city would push to have the center put in extra cleaning procedures, not an ordinance to completely move out.

    What’s happening here can simply be explained by: money.

    As consumers in California we pay an additional tax on bottles and cans which is refunded to us when we recycle.

    This can be simply modeled as:

    1. Consumer pays for drinks and CRV
    2. Consumer drinks drink
    3. Consumer takes bottle to recycling center
    4. Consumer gets all or part of the CRV back

    However, the City of Alhambra has a contract with Allied Waste to provide them with the City’s recyclables. When items are placed in the blue residential recycling bins, the bottles go to Allied Waste. The City also passed out fliers and reminded resident’s of this commitment to provide Allied Waste with the recyclables and even indicated that removing bottles and cans from the bins is a crime because once they are in the bin they belong to Allied Waste. I distinctly remember one recent article quoting a city member as saying something along the lines of “you already pay for the trash service so why not use it?”. But there is a HUGE difference between cash for recycling centers and using the bins. Basically what ends up happening here is the consumer ends up paying extra to recycle cans and bottles in addition to the yearly refuse fee we already pay. The cash for recycling centers probably cut into Allied Waste’s revenue and pushing them out of the residential areas probably helps regain this revenue. There must be some incentive for the council members to push this as they have, promises of campaign contributions maybe?

    The model for this looks simply like this:
    1. Consumer pays for drinks and CRV
    2. Consumer drinks drink
    3. Consumer pays for a yearly refuse service
    3. Consumer puts bottle in blue recycling bin
    4. Allied Waste recycles the bottle and collects the CRV

    There are other businesses which are far dirtier, pollute, cause noise and exist in residential areas. Simple example: car workshops.

  6. As long as there's demand for these places they should be left to do as they please.. if the recycling place was too dirty, then let the market decide that, not the government.. if the customers thought it was too dirty then they would go to a cleaner one.. I've gone to one of these places and it was dirty but I didn't mind because it's part of the business.. I voluntarily choose to go there and will continue to.. I don't want the government telling me what business is too dirty to go to.. I can decide for myself.

    -Jesse Cruz

  7. It would be stupid to remove the recycling facilities. What is unsightly, my friends, is the trash in the gutter, in the streets and hanging out around the bushes in the sidewalk. These people in line are not “unsightly” they are people who are putting your trash, our trash, where it belongs. In fact, I would say that the passer-bys in their car are the unsightly ones- driving around, content in their shiny, high-speed metal containers known as cars.

    Gary Yamauchi needs to understand that “shielding” recycling centers from streets sounds like a fat excuse to make the city SEEM like it doesn’t need recycling centers so that the city SEEMS to be a home for residents that can manage to live without the assistance of food vouchers and cash redeemed for trash collected off the streets.

    Come on, listen to what is happening here, its complete bullshit. I know grandmothers who collect trash all over san gabriel valley. Its something simple they can do that cleans up the city and at the same time helps out their coffers.

    Make it simpler for people who want to contribute their time into a good idea like these recycling centers, not harder.