LONG BEACH : Moratorium Declared on Recycling Centers

The City Council has declared a moratorium on new recycling centers on the west side of Long Beach to allow time to draw up stiffer regulations. Officials said they are seeking to stem growing sales of stolen material--everything from car batteries to copper piping--at some centers.

City officials said they want to correct a previous oversight in city planning. The west side of Long Beach does not require certain permits that exist in other areas and allow the city to monitor recycling centers more closely.

Councilman Evan Anderson Braude, who proposed the moratorium, said the action stems in part from an investigation last summer into a center called Long Beach Recycling by state officials and local police. Although the owner was cleared of wrongdoing, three employees were arrested on misdemeanor charges of knowingly accepting stolen goods, said Long Beach Police Lt. Richard Jones.

Long Beach Recycling's business license expired last month and the company was seeking to move into an area that did not require the permits, Braude said.

The owner of Long Beach Recycling, Howard Noble, said this week that he is preparing legal action against the city because he feels the moratorium discriminates against him. Noble added that neither he nor his company had been charged with any crimes.

"We had a problem with some of the employees, but as soon as I found (out) about what they were doing they were discharged," he said.

The city will probably require all recycling centers in Long Beach to have a conditional-use permit, which will allow the city to limit what the centers can accept, said James R. Kuhl, the city's recycling coordinator.

For example, companies could be forced to turn away recyclables delivered in shopping carts or in the city's purple recycling bins, Kuhl said. Some centers might only be allowed to accept California Redemption Value items such as cans and bottles, to eliminate the market for more profitable items such as copper and metals that can be stolen from industrial areas.

Currently, 21 recycling centers operate in Long Beach, Kuhl said.

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