Higher hurdles possible for new recycling centers

COSTA MESA — The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to amend its zoning code to make it tougher to open recycling centers citywide.

The vote follows the recent revocation of the Garcia Recycling center permit on 19th Street. The business has operated in Costa Mesa for more than 20 years without any violations.

Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger had called for a review of the center's operations and had suggested closing it down due to complaints about noise and the type of customers attracted to the center, such as the homeless. He also asked city staff last month to get council approval of the code amendment.

If approved, the new law would distinguish between the types of recycling facilities that can operate and create guidelines for each.

The amended ordinance would include definitions for reverse vending collection material, and small- and large-scale facilities, according to a city staff report. It would also restrict the areas in which recycling centers can operate.

Depending on the location of the center, conditional-use permits or minor conditional-use permits can be issued. Typically, minor-conditional use permits do not require Planning Commission approval and can be issued by city staff. The new law would require the commission's approval for large-scale centers.

The city gave Jesse Garcia, owner of Garcia Recycling, three months to close down or relocate. Garcia has found a new location and has said he's going to approach the city to get approval. Depending on where he's relocating, this new law might make it more difficult for him to reopen in Costa Mesa.

"I don't think it's a coincidence," said Patricia Chen, Garcia's lawyer, "but at the same time we're still working with the city and it remains to be seen how cooperative the city is going to be."

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