A proposed law in Fresno will limit where recycling centers can operate within the city, in hopes of reducing problems created by homeless people in residential and commercial neighborhoods.
The Fresno City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to initiate the process of crafting an ordinance. It will likely take 60 to 90 days for the proposal by council President Paul Caprioglio to work its way through the city’s process, said Jennifer Clark, Development and Resource Management director. That process includes an environmental assessment and consideration by the Fresno Planning Commission, as well as a first reading and final adoption by the City Council.
Caprioglio’s proposal would restrict California Recycle Value, or CRV, recycling centers, where people can turn in cans and bottles for cash, to industrial land-use zones; increase the distance between recycling centers and residential areas; forbid recycling centers from operating in temporary buildings; and require existing recycling facilities to comply with new provisions of the law within six months to a year. “It would also remove these facilities from commercial districts and would not allow these existing facilities to remain in areas that are within one mile of residential uses,” according to Caprioglio.
The city regularly receives complaints from the public about
Councilmen Paul Caprioglio and Oliver Baines
In a report to the council, Caprioglio and Councilman Oliver Baines, who co-sponsored the law, said issues of crime and blight at recycling centers frequently spread into adjacent neighborhoods. “The city regularly receives complaints from the public about … recycling centers interfering with the quiet enjoyment of nearby residents and transients ‘hanging out’ as they become intoxicated and leaving their litter behind,” Caprioglio and Baines wrote.
The report noted that Fresno police have received more than 260 calls at recycling locations since July 1.
Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, calling into the meeting from Israel, said she supported the proposal because she hopes “it will improve the quality of life” for residents.
Councilman Clint Olivier agreed with Caprioglio about the need to toughen up Fresno’s law. “Vagrants are the biggest complaint we get in my office,” he said, noting that calls come from all parts of his central Fresno districts from affluent areas to more modest neighborhoods. “Let’s face it: It’s expensive to live here” in Fresno, Olivier said. “People are angry and they feel very frustrated.”
Olivier asked to include language in the ordinance to restrict CRV recycling centers from being within two miles of schools. The rest of the council concurred.
City Manager Bruce Rudd noted that state law requires CRV recycling centers within a half mile of grocery stores as a matter of convenience for customers. But, he added, the city is responsible for governing land use in its jurisdiction and said exceptions can be made to the state law if a city can demonstrate that it has an effective curbside recycling program for residents.
Also on Thursday, the City Council voted 5-2 to approve adoption of a project labor agreement tied to $70 million that the city would receive from the state under the Transformative Climate Communities program. Olivier and Councilman Steve Brandau voted against the measure.
Representatives of building trades unions said they back the project labor agreement because it provides apprenticeship opportunities for their members. But nonunion contractors and advocates complained that they would be barred from competing for work on projects under the program.
Olivier and Brandau said they are philosophically opposed to a measure that would limit participation of nonunion contractors. But other council members, including Mayor-elect Lee Brand, said the opportunity for improvements to be made with the money in downtown Fresno, particularly in the area proposed for a high-speed train station, is too great to pass up.
The city expects to use the TCC grant for a range of public works construction projects such as bicycle lanes, pedestrian walkways, trails, parks and other projects in the area surrounding the train station site at H Street and the Mariposa Mall.
The project labor agreement is aimed at “providing for peaceful settlement of labor disputes and grievances without strikes or lockouts, controlling costs, increasing efficiency, providing safe working conditions, and maintaining the highest quality of construction work,” according to the resolution approved by the City Council. “The interests of the city, its residents, the unions and contractors will be best served if construction work proceeds in an orderly manner without disruption due to strikes, work stoppages, picketing, lockouts, slowdowns or other interference with work.”
Olivier pointed out that Fresno voted to do away with project labor agreements about 20 years ago. “I think the city had it right at that time,” he said, expressing hope of reversing the agreement in the future.