The Rolling Hills Estates City Council gave notice this week to the Palos Verdes Recycle Center that it has until May 1 to move or it will be shut down.
The 3-1 vote was taken Tuesday after more than an hour of testimony at a public hearing, during which some residents extolled the virtues of the center, while others living near it complained of the noise and dust it creates.
Council members said an extension of the deadline is possible, but only if the center makes progress in finding an alternative site in the city where it will not disturb its neighbors.
John Gulledge, an official with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts that operates the center, said after the hearing, "It would be extremely difficult to move the facility in six months," but he would work toward that goal.
"We feel the center is providing a valuable service to the community," Gulledge said, adding that the sanitation districts agency does not have the money to move the center, which operates at a loss.
Councilman Kenneth Servis voted against closing the facility, saying he didn't think six months gave the sanitation districts enough time to find another site. "It's really too short a fuse," he said. "I don't think six months is realistic."
Mayor Warren Schwarzmann said he didn't want to see the popular center shut down because "to close a recycling center at this point is kind of backwards." Nevertheless, he said he was voting to close the center within six months "to get some urgency" in efforts to move it.
"Whether we can have such a plan in six months is certainly a question in my mind," Schwarzmann added.
He and other council members indicated a willingness to extend the deadline, if substantial progress has been made to move the center. Schwarzmann said the city's staff would attempt to find outside funds to move the center away from residents.
Councilwoman Jacki McGuire was not present for the public hearing.
The center has been at its site north of City Hall for 20 years, and was originally established as a temporary recycling facility to raise money for various charities. Although the sanitation agency owns the property where it is located, it must have a city conditional-use permit to operate the center because the land is zoned for agricultural uses.
Over the years, the center has become popular with residents of the four peninsula cities, as well as those from other neighboring communities as a place that buys recyclable materials such as bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers and motor oil. About 80 charities now benefit when recyclers take in materials and assign sale proceeds to the charities.
Residents from Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills sent letters to council members urging them to keep the center open. In Rolling Hills, many residents rely on the center because the city does not yet have a curbside recycling program.
But neighbors whose back yards abut the facility have complained about noise and dust for years. And, although many told council members that some problems had been corrected, the crash of broken glass and clanging of aluminum cans is still a nuisance.
"We residents have had enough of it," Vince DiFiore said.
"We've had it in our back yard for 20 years," said Norman Unis, president of the Roanwood Homeowners Assn. "On the (peninsula) there must be some open space where you can put it, but I don't think you're going to have any takers."
One possible site for the center discussed at Tuesday's meeting is an abandoned power plant north of the city's municipal stables. The property is part of the same former landfill on which the recycling center already sits.