Local Businesses Pay a Price One Year After Point Loma Recycling Center Forced to Close

by on March 18, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

We now have learned that there was a price to pay for the forced closure of the Prince Recycling Center next to Stump’s Market in Point Loma. It turns out a number of businesses are now paying a fee due to the closing of the Prince Recycling Center because of the state law requiring markets to provide recycling to their customers.

Per CalRecycle, those businesses are:

  • Thrifty Oil – 1902 Sunset Cliffs Blvd
  • Sunshine Liquor & Delicatessen – 3911 Voltaire St – SINCE CLOSED
  • Ralphs – 1666 Rosecrans St
  • OB Quik Stop Market – 4984 Voltaire St
  • Super Max – 4991 Newport Ave

The other impacted businesses are recycling within their stores so no fees are assessed.

Our readers may recall the controversy that raged around the recycling center just one year ago.

On February 10, 2018, there was a small rally against the recycling center, publicly organized by 3 them-members of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, Don Sevrens, Margaret Virissimo and then- chair Jon Linney. At the time, all three said they were not acting for the planning committee but all were identified in the media as PCPB members.

Just 2 days after the protest, on Monday, February 12th, James Prince, the owner of Prince Recycling Center was served an eviction notice  by the property manager that owns the plaza. Prince described the notice as blindsiding after operating the business for four years. Prince says he had an agreement with Dirk Stump, the Vice President of Stump’s Family Marketplace, to operate the recycling center nearby. But due to the pushback, Stump now wanted the center to close. CBS8

Then, at the Midway/Pacific Highway Community Planning Group meeting on February 15, board members vented that they were not pleased with the Peninsulan planners’ apparent efforts to oust the recycling center and move it behind the Big Lots store in the Midway area.

As OB Rag writer, Geoff Page, on Feb. 19, 2018, reported:

The Midway planning board was not pleased because no one involved with the effort to move the recycling center contacted them to discuss this idea.  At first, it appeared to them that this was an action by the Peninsula Community Planning Board because the three people heading this effort are PCPB members, one being the chair.  It was explained to them by this reporter and James Hare, the PCPB liaison to the Midway group, that the PCPB had never discussed the matter or taken any action. The perception that the PCPB had acted happened because the three organizers were all identified as PCPB members.

The Midway group voted unanimously to send a letter to the PCPB protesting this idea, explaining that Midway had its own problems and did not appreciate the Peninsula wanting to push its perceived problem over to the Midway district.  The letter went to the PCPB because it is the group that represents Point Loma and three PCPB members are spearheading the effort to get rid of the recycling center.

A week later, some Peninsulans complained to Assemblyman Todd Gloria at a Feb. 17 community town hall, alleging the recycling center was a homeless haunt, a community blight and a crime catalyst, and called for the removal of Point Loma “convenience” recycler.

San Diego Community News Group  reported how marketplace owner Dirk Stump felt frustrated and trapped in the middle, as he was compelled by state law four years earlier to allow a “convenience” recycling center onsite next to his market at 3770 Voltaire St. – or face daily fines.

It came to a head on March 15, 2018 at the packed monthly meeting of the Peninsula planning committee meeting. On March 19, 2018, the OB Rag reported:

 It appeared that most of the people in the room were there for this issue [of the Prince Recycling center]. James Prince, owner of Prince Recycling, was there with employees, family, and friends all holding signs in favor of the center.

 At one point, a board member asked for a show of hands of who in the audience was for keeping the recycling center and who was against. The hands raised in favor of the center vastly outnumbered the few hands of opponents. …

Prince explained what had happened to him as a result if all the negative publicity caused by the three board members.

Prince said that he was unable to find anyone willing to rent him a new space because no one wants to be in the middle of another controversy.  Had the matter been handled quietly and professionally, he said, there might have been a chance for a solution that satisfied everyone. Prince laid the blame squarely on the chair Jon Linney and Virissimo . He said that Linney had been constantly harassing him about moving – and not in a polite manner.  Prince excoriated Linney during the meeting pointing at him continually describing his treatment as Linney looked on tight lipped.

What Prince was looking for was support and he got it from the audience but not from the PCPB.  Board member David Dick spoke up and said that he did not think this was an issue that was something that fell within the board’s purview.  Dick said this was a private matter between Prince and the property owner.  Because of Dick’s opinion, the board decided to do nothing on the action item, something that has become a common practice with the PCPB. The only action before them was to send the letter to Zapf and the board decided it could not even make a decision on that.

The lack of this small action on the part of the PCPB was mystifying and disappointing. In the past, the PCPB has approved and sent letters about a variety of issues. (On the PCPB website is a letter to Catalina-Talbot Properties, LLC encouraging the private property owners to replace the Fresh & Easy store on Catalina with another grocery store when Fresh & Easy closed a few years ago. Plus the PCPB approved a letter supporting the Point Loma Summer Concert series, something that happens every year.)

Sending a letter to Zapf as described in the agenda clearly would have been within the PCPB’s past practices but no action was taken at all. Perhaps the difference was that the former Fresh & Easy store was in upper Point Loma at Talbot and Catalina and the concert series is popular with Point Loma but a recycling center does not appeal to the same folks who frequent that shopping center and attend the concerts. …

The meeting did allow the community to vent and there was palpable anger against those who had opposed the recycling center for driving a small business person, providing a needed service, out of business. The general feeling expressed was that the whole matter was handled badly and some felt the board members who engaged in the fight against the center should be held accountable.

Residents of Sea Colony, near to Stump’s, had been vocal in their opposition to the recycling center but only one person from there spoke against the center. … A woman who identified herself as a Sea Colony resident said the addition of lights and cameras had made a tremendous improvement in the situation.

And most of the comments were for the center, with only a few opposing it.  The complaint that the homeless population was causing problems has never been substantiated by the opponents.  Prince stated that the homeless were only a small part of his business and one of his employees said there had not been one police call to the site in the four years they had been there. Unfortunately, Prince walked out with nothing from the PCPB.

(Hat tip to Chevelle Tate of Calif. Senator Toni Atkins’ office.)


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ZZ March 18, 2019 at 1:31 pm

In Michigan every standard size grocery store takes back standard soda cans and 12-20oz bottles. There are even vending machine type items to do it.

I don’t feel bad for a business that wants to sell disposable cans and bottles having to pay a fee for not taking them back. The larger problem is the 5c fee is too small. Make it 25c, and watch everyone demand their local place accept them. 25c isn’t unreasonable, adjust for inflation, and it is simply the amount charged in Michigan in the 1980s, and the system worked.

The city could do more to discourage water bottle waste by adding to and maintaining its water fountains. The one by the Robb Field skate park has been in poor shape for years. If the police trailer has a water line, put a water fountain right outside it. There are a lot of sprinklers in Robb Field, which could allow more fountains there.


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