SACRAMENTO — A bill sought by Alhambra City Councilman J. Parker Williams to ease restrictions for his and other mobile waste-recycling businesses appears to be sailing toward approval by the Legislature.
The measure, carried by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Alhambra), would prohibit cities from banning recycling vans but would allow them to impose conditions, such as when and where the trucks would park.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved the bill by a 5-0 margin Wednesday and sent it to the floor. It passed the Assembly on a 66-7 vote in May.
Williams is president of Cash for Trash, an East Los Angeles-based company that operates a fleet of mobile recycling vans. The vans park in shopping center lots in the San Gabriel Valley and Southeast Los Angeles County cities on a rotating basis. Williams pays for old newspapers, cans and glass that are hauled to the vans.
Questions in 4 Cities
According to the committee's analysis of the bill, Williams told a Senate consultant that "four cities have raised problems with these trucks, questioning whether they violate local zoning." The analysis did not name the cities.
Calderon, who introduced the bill at Williams' request, said the councilman told him that several cities around the San Gabriel Valley were hampering his recycling operation but that the names of the cities did not come up in their discussions.
Williams told The Times that the cities were in the San Gabriel Valley but declined to identify them.
Williams was not at Wednesday's hearing, but in a telephone interview afterward he explained his reluctance to name the cities.
"I didn't want to start any kind of war with the people in those communities. I didn't think it was fair to them or to the assemblyman," he said.
In Calderon's view, the key point is to "prohibit a city from arbitrarily denying mobile van recycling," not finding out where Williams ran into difficulties.
Calderon said the bill would have "good environmental implications" because it would make recycling easier.
A lobbyist for the League of California Cities said the league is mildly opposed to the bill because it would restrict local control. However, league lobbyists did not testify against the measure.
The legislation is backed by the California Refuse Removal Council, a trade association of waste haulers; Waste Management Inc., an Illinois-based firm that disposes of liquid wastes, and Williams' firm.
Williams said he was able to solve his problems in three of the four cities where his trucks were restricted. But in the fourth, he said, "no way we were going to be able to work it out."
Williams has been on the Alhambra council for about nine years. He said he operates one van at an Alhambra shopping center but indicated he had not had any difficulties in his hometown.
Williams said the Calderon bill would ease the situation for other firms too. "It's not some self-serving project," he said.