Some residents, who feel the recycler is misplaced and want it moved, rallied in front of the recycler at Stumps on Feb. 10. Nearby residents, corridor businesses, the nonprofit Point Loma Association and market owner Dirk Stump weighed-in with the media on their cause.
The rally was to draw attention to alleged crime-related issues associated with homeless utilizing, and loitering, in and around the allegedly problematic recycler.
Recycling center owner Jamie Prince said he was mystified, and a little taken aback, by public reaction to his operations.
“I was never contacted by anyone at all about any problems,” Prince told the Peninsula Beacon. “Then all of a sudden, it was all over social media and I said, ‘What’s going on?’”
Prince feels scapegoated.
“I’m not the reason for the homeless problem in the area,” he said, noting “there’s always been a homeless problem.” He added, “I have a clean site and the homeless are just a small part of our business.”
Prince pointed out, under state law, “We can’t refuse a person service.” He pointed out the number one rule at his center is “no shopping carts,” adding he always tries to be a good neighbor and respond to the community’s concerns.
Rally spokesperson Margaret Virissimo, a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, said she and others tried unsuccessfully to reach Prince offline. She noted the purpose of the rally was being mischaracterized.
“It really wasn’t a protest so much,” Virissimo said. “We definitely don’t want to see [Prince] go [out of business]. We want to help him relocate, and even offered to fundraise to help with his moving costs to show him we care.”
Virissimo contended Prince Recycling “is in too small a space and that it is negatively affecting nearby businesses.” She added the center, and its lingering homeless population, is a threat given its proximity to three local schools.
“Neighborhood recycling centers should be a positive asset, however, the Point Loma recycling center has caused several neighborhood problems,” said District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf. “In fact, calls to SDPD for service to this block have increased by more than 50 percent.”
Zapf aide Conrad Wear noted recent police statistics show a direct causal connection between local crime and the recycling center’s location.
“We used the call rate from January 2017 to August 2017 to project calls through the end of that year,” said Wear. “They would have totaled 156. After comparing that to 2015, we have seen an approximately 59 percent increase in calls to service to this location between 2015 and 2017, from 93 to 156.”
Julie Borcher chairs the PLA’s Public Safety Committee. She said the civic group has researched the CalRecycle program, under which Prince’s center operates and, according to her, is receiving state subsidies.
“The state requires stores like Stump’s to provide CA CRV redemption for bottles and cans within a one-half mile radius,” Borcher said. “Stump’s was required by the state to provide this type of facility or face $100 per day in penalties.”
Borcher contended having recyclers in the middle of neighborhoods, like Prince’s, “may have made some sense in the early 1980s when the program was introduced and curb side recycling was less common. But the PLA believes the program is leading to the degradation of neighborhoods in which these centers are located.”
Market owner Dirk Stump said no one wants Prince’s relocated more than him.
“It’s a problem for the store,” Stump said, adding the constant homeless presence “scares off the elderly, kids and moms.”
Stump said he’s personally been victimized by a homeless woman, now serving time in custody, who came in and destroyed merchandise in the market, and threatened him personally, before being subdued and arrested.
“I’ve been trying to get [recycling center] moved ever since,” Stump said.
“Protests and photo-ops are great for gaining public awareness of an issue,” said PCPB chair Jon Linney, one of three protest organizers at the Feb. 10 rally. Said Linney: “More important are the breakthroughs we are achieving on something that has frustrated the community for more than three years. I could not be prouder of the way everyone has conducted themselves.”
Another PCPB member, Don Sevrens, said recycling rally organizers have reached out to Ken Da Rosa, deputy director of CalRecycle. “They are hoping the agency might be willing to try a more cooperative, more proactive approach,” Sevrens said.
Opponents of the recycling center at Stump’s are petitioning State Assemblyman Todd Gloria to carry legislation, which would need to be sponsored soon, to expand the half-mile requirement for recycling centers to possibly allow it to be moved from Stump’s to the proposed Midway District location.