City Manager's Updates

Monthly updates from El Cerrito City Manager Karen Pinkos.

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Apr 14

RERC Rules of Conduct and Salvage: Update on 2014 Community Meeting

Posted on April 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM by Suzanne Iarla

On February 26, 2014, Public Works staff conducted a community meeting at the Recycling Environmental Resource Center (RERC) to discuss potential changes to the RERC Rules of Conduct. The current Rules were established on March 2013 after a series of community meetings started in 2010, prior to the demolition of the old recycling center. The Rules of Conduct were enacted in response to ongoing complaints about conditions at the RERC, with the intent of ensuring that the RERC remain safe and welcoming to all users. The current Rules state:

• Visits limited to 2 hours per person per day
• Parking limited to 30 minutes
• Supervise children and leave pets at home
• Do not get in, on, or move equipment
• Do not take more than 1 file box of items per day from Exchange Zone
• Do not take items from bins or other customers
• Certain salvage activities are allowed by permit

Since March 2013, staff has closely monitored activities at the RERC to ensure that it remains a safe, welcoming and accessible facility. Staff observations over the course of the past year (as well as periodic complaints from the public) indicate that there are challenges tracking and enforcing the current Rules. Weekends are particularly challenging with respect to tracking and enforcement because that is when the RERC hosts the most visitors (estimated at between 300 and 600 per day) while also retaining the fewest on-site staff (3 FTEs per day, up from 1 FTE three years ago). Due to these conditions, staff is not often in a position to prove when patrons violate the Rules of Conduct, effectively ruling out enforcement activities. As a result – and in contrast to weekday activities at the RERC – the Rules are routinely violated on weekends, often yielding complaints about aggressive salvaging, unfairness, and other unsafe and unwelcoming conditions.

During the February 26 public meeting, staff met with 10-15 community members to discuss the issues outlined above, and to hear comments regarding a proposal to implement further limitations on daily visitation, permit salvage access, and Exchange Zone activities during weekends. Specifically, staff’s proposal was to limit weekend visitation to 30 minutes, disallow weekend permitted salvage, and limit weekend exchange zone collection to 5 items per person per day. Many attendees shared comments about the rules, including comments in support of and opposition to the proposed changes. Additionally, the discussion resulted in several proposed alternatives, and a general consensus among the group that conditions needed to be improved in order to continue to meet the intent of being a safe and welcoming place.

Based on the outcome of the meeting, staff has no immediate plans to implement changes to the Rules of Conduct, though staff will continue to monitor conditions at the RERC, collect comments from the public, and make preparation for future Rule changes. For more information about the Rules of Conduct or to make a comment regarding the proposed Rule changes, please contact Garth Schultz, Operations Environmental Services Division Manager at 510-559-7684.