Sun Valley neighbors of a huge recycling center say little has been done about years of stench and rodents — and the company plans to expand.
Despite years of complaints about stench and rodents, neighbors of Community Recycling in Sun Valley say the city has done little to clean things up. Many are opposing a plan to expand the operation, even though it’s supposed to add the improvement to enclose it.
Rats have skittered off the property of Community Recycling & Resource Recovery and into a nearby business, according to calls logged by the city. Churning dust is said to be making everyone’s eyes burn making breathing difficult and causing bloody noses among workers at a neighborhood paving firm. Gulls scavenging from piles of food waste have scattered bits of garbage from the sky. And then there is the stench, described in the logs as “a dead animal smell,” a “rotten egg odor” and “putrid.” Trash, dust, green waste, birds and liquids are very much in the public right of way, in the air and flowing into storm drains.
The problem was supposed to have been fixed long ago. But neighbors have been left fuming, saying that politics and bureaucracy have allowed the facility to continue to take in nearly three times the amount of waste permitted and process it in smelly, open-air piles.
In 2004 and 2006, the city issued two cease-and-desist orders against the company to stop the processing of food scraps, yard waste and construction debris until it could get the necessary permits. But in the end, the city worked out an interim operating agreement that would last until an environmental review could be done allowing the operations to be expanded and largely enclosed.
That report was completed in 2012 — five years behind schedule. They continue to operate while postponing millions of dollars in improvement expenditures.
City officials say they will fight to protect the residents’ quality of life by demanding that the company enclose more of its operations than planned, and that it convert its trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas.
Meanwhile, this story has taken on a bizarre quality: Regulators, who visit at least every two weeks, have issued more than 70 “violations” over the last two years — mostly for not complying with permits. The violations never result in any fines or disciplinary action, in part because the city has agreed not to enforce permit violations.
In May, an inspector noted that he had seen a rat that appeared to be the size of a small Chihuahua carrying a large piece of lettuce in its mouth. In June, inspection notes described how workers at a nearby business were upset that birds were dropping chicken bones into roof vents. The inspector wrote that he would continue to monitor the chicken bone situation.
After spotting rats and birds over a period of weeks, officials in August issued a violation against the company for not controlling pests — but called for no fines. What’s the sense of having a law if you don’t enforce it?
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