Council to Consider Stricter Behavior Rules at Recycling Center

An El Cerrito staff report says "common sense" rules for Recycling Center patrons aren't working. Staff asks the City Council to approve "enforceable rules" limiting time spent at the facility and requiring a permit to salvage

On the El Cerrito City Council agenda for Tuesday night is a staff request to approve stricter, enforceable rules for patron conduct at the city's new Recycling Center.

The new rules would limit parking at the facility to half an hour and time spent at the center to two hours. They would also require patrons to obtain staff permission to remove any items from recycling bins, with a permit required for salvaging certain non-hazardous items for reuse. No permit would be allowed for resale of items.

Permits would not be required to remove items from the Book Exchange or Exchange Zone. The current rule of not taking more than one file box worth of items from the Book/Exchange Zone would remain.

A staff report from the manager of the Recycling Center, Environmental Analyst Garth Schultz, says the "common sense rules" that were posted when the rebuilt facility opened in April have failed to stop complaints about continuing abuses.

The report cites the following activities as the main sources of complaints:

   • Users of the book exchange taking too many books and being aggressive

   • People taking materials from recycling collection bins

   • People getting on, or into, recycling bins or entering restricted staff areas

   • People parking or staying in the facility for many hours or all day

   • Groups of people loitering and taking recyclable materials from other patrons 

Police could be summoned if needed to enforce the new rules, and violatioins would be subject to criminal prosecution, the report says.

The city not only wants to preserve civility and safety at the recycling center but also to balance two conflicting goals: maxmizing city revenue from selling recyled items brought to the center and diverting materials from the waste stream into reuse when possible, according to the report.

The salvage permits "would be issued on an annual basis for legitimate reuse (not resale) of certain items including, but not limited to, art projects, school projects, landscaping projects, building projects, etc.," according to the report.

The draft Rules of Conduct contained in the report are:

SUPERVISE your children and leave pets at home

NOTIFY STAFF of any issues and call 911 in an emergency

NO LOITERING – Limit daily visitation to 2 hours total, maximum

NO DUMPING – Place accepted items in designated areas only

DO NOT park over 30 minutes at a time within this facility

DO NOT get in or move any equipment or enter staff areas

DO NOT take items from drop-off areas, patrons, or vehicles without City permission or as designated
   * Exchange Zone, Packaging, Bicycle, and Planter Pot areas exempt from this provision
   * See staff for more details regarding permitted salvage activities

DO NOT take more than one file box of items per day from the Exchange Zone

Failure to comply with these rules may result in action per ECMC 8.12.040, 8.12.140, 10.60.010, and CPC 602(l).  



The report also includes a revised city ordinance authorizing the city to adopt the new rules and a copy of the salvage permit application. No fee is named for the application. The permit instructions say, "Applicant shall pay an application fee as provided in the city's master fee schedule, if one is established."

The report is attached to this article. The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m.


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Mike C November 19, 2012 at 05:01 PM
This is welcome news; thanks to Garth Schultz for looking to make the rules work better. For me, the Book Exchange seems to be the major problem, with the peddlers loitering and pouncing. I guess limiting total time to 2 hours might make a small dent in this. How about 1 hour? Seems like more than enough time for anyone's legitimate uses of the recycling center. The rules seem to be targeted primarily at people taking materials from outside the Exchange Zone, especially stuff that the city would otherwise sell. Are people taking aluminum and steel, or is it something else?
Local Mom November 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I am glad staff is monitoring the issues and trying to respond to complaints. However, two hours seems way too long to me. You don't need more than a half-hour to scan the contents of the Book Exchange. (If that.) Half-hour parking, half-hour visit time should be the rule.
Eric Keith Hill November 19, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Totally agree, Local Mom. I actually had a gentleman take a book from my hand as I was placing it in a bin. He then scanned what was in my arms and took two others. I was stunned, and from that day on simply recycled books at Half Price (if they would take them) or put the left-overs my blue bin. I'm a huge recycler, but that book exchange is an uncomfortable place. It shouldn't be that way.
Elizabeth Whipple November 19, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I agree with the half-hour limit, though it might be hard to enforce. Do people take stuff out of need (resale) or greed? It's such a great center; too bad a handful of clods take advantage of the community resource.
lisa martinengo November 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Don't forget the Friends of the El Cerrito Library also appreciates the donation of your unwanted books.
Mark Kay November 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM
People need to park within the lines. Not doing so is selfish, particularly when it is busy. Why no dogs? Just have them sit in your car. I am tired of the anti- dog sentiments in this town.
Mark Kay November 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Also, take your books to the library and donate them to the book sales. This helps our poor library system.
Kathy A. November 20, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I took some books to the book exchange today -- and no predatory sellers grabbed them out of our hands or anything. But, has anyone else noticed that the parking spots are striped for cars going clockwise, but the traffic arrows direct us to go counter-clockwise? Parking in the spaces is rather difficult, as a result.
Agi Tator November 20, 2012 at 02:03 AM
The same people actually go to houses in el cerrito (and surrounding cities) to rummage through people's recycling bins, and they do this from after midnight to 4 am. Common sense rules only work for common sense people, not on these folks.
Denise Sangster November 20, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Glad to see some changes to the rules--particularly with the books... There are a group of regulars who seize book deliveries on the weekend. Great facility and with a few rule adjustments, it will be an even better place for the community!
F. Felter November 20, 2012 at 04:42 AM
My wife and I are presently culling an extensive library and am more than willing to contribute our books to the benefit of the community. However, the very aggressive behavior of some of the "hawks" at the book exchange make this a very uncomfortable experience and make us shy away from any more donations. Please, do something to tamper down these men who hover over the donation bin. They are making many of us to look elsewhere for our contributions. F. Felter
Doug Millison November 20, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Free Books store on San Pablo Ave. is a good place to donate books.
Damian Hayden November 20, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I am surprised the Recycling Center hasn't first solicited feedback from citizens. Is this blog the only form other than going to the City Hall Meeting? (I can't). I feel that the requirement for a permit etc are neglecting the fact that the design of the new recycling center and its processes are itself a cause for concern. The whoel parking area is too small, and parking lines for example were drawn for symmetry, not safety. It is very difficult for cars to park within these lines in the small radius of the driveway. It is dangerous for cars to be backing up and turning with people walking around, hands full. Cars should park curbside as they do at the airport, albeit with a 5' load / unload limit. Also, the recycling center is purposed for re-use, not just recycling. But cardboard, styrofoam etc are very difficult to access in the huge, deep steel containers. The design of these repositories has more to do with interoperability with recycling center machinery than safety and repurposing. There's a lot wrong with the new recycling center, and I propose that behaviors are often a result of the poor architectural and process design. These issues should be addressed before draconian rules emplaced requiring permits for reusing discarded materials. And who's going to police using the permits? I propose the recycling center propose some changes itself, and ask users what they think of the new place.
lisa martinengo November 21, 2012 at 12:38 AM
please consider donating to the Friends of EC Library before going to that place. The funds generated from the Book sales go to helping your local library which is a valuable resource for everyone.
Jacob Wadsworth November 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I have a lot of books at home that are not used anymore but I believe that they can still be useful for other people. I think its time that I do my part in recycling in my own way to better protect the environment. - http://www.ohiobaler.com/


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