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October 2004

Illegal Dumping Forces California Recycling Center Closing
Avoidance of Dump Fees Cited as Main Cause for Trash Activities in Marin County
by Jacob Resneck 

Plagued by illegal dumping at the San Geronimo Valley Recycling Center in Marin County, California, Waste Management permanently closed West Marin’s sole remaining recycling center, following a formal request from Supervisor Steve Kinsey’s office.

Point Reyes Station also lost its recycling center after Toby’s Feed Barn (citing liability issues because of the increased height of many recycling containers provided by Waste Management) removed the recycling containers from its parking lot.

Kinsey’s aide Liza Crosse said creating administrators at neighboring Lagunitas School have been worried about a health hazard to students created by illegal dumping of large appliances and other non-recyclable trash at the Valley site. Crosse accused rogue haulers from East Marin of using the recycling center as a free dump.

San Geronimo resident and San Geronimo Valley Lions Club volunteer Ted Van Midde, who helped pour the concrete slab foundation of the site in 1999, said he was saddened by the closure; however, he recognized that the dumping problem had gotten out of control.

“Rather than being used as a recycling center, it’s being used as a dump,” Van Midde said. “It’s turned into an eyesore. It’s just an environmental nightmare.”

San Geronimo Community Center Director Dave Cort said that there was a clear pattern of people in the hauling businesses illegally using the recycling center to avoid paying dump fees.

“We haven’t had effective enforcement,” Crosse said, “but, frankly, law enforcement is already overwhelmed with other problems. They don’t have the time to watch the site. It really is a sad thing that the bad guys win this time.”

On April 5, Kinsey met with San Geronimo Valley residents to discuss solutions to the problem. Waste Management said that their larger recycling trucks are unable to negotiate some of the narrower roads, leaving many residents without recycling pickup service.

One such resident is Lagunitas resident Debra Amerson. She said that residents asked Waste Management for a solution during the April meeting.

“At the meeting, Waste Management talked to community members about bringing smaller recycling trucks up Arroyo Road. They took our phone numbers, but they’ve never gotten back to us,” she said. “They’re able to bring their garbage trucks with no problem. I don’t see what the problem [with recycling trucks] is,” Amerson added.

Crosse said that she and Kinsey hoped that Waste Management would be able to offer a solution before the recycling center closed, but the problem was worsening and the closure couldn’t be postponed any longer.

—Reprinted with permission from Point Reyes Light, 09/09/2004

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