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Recycling center raises concerns

A Buddhist church located at Broadway and Riverside Boulevard has recently raised concerns about a nearby recycling center, saying it has attracted problems such as trespassing at the church’s property and human urination.

The center, MS Recycling, is located at a Valero gas station next to the Buddhist Church of Sacramento. The center leases from the property owner of the gas station, Vince Lera, according to city documents.

“We've got community programs running from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., seven days a week, that serve the very young and very old. And they deserve a safe and clean environment,” Kelvin Mark, president of the Buddhist church, said in an e-mail.

Lisa Nava, district director for Councilman Rob Fong, wrote in Dec. 23 e-mail to the Greater Broadway Partnership that the center will be closed down. Nava said the recycling center would be closed down because the Valero gas station intends to install a biofuels station to next to its gas offerings and will no longer have space to lease to MS Recycling. However, Nava said she did not have a timeline for the closure.

Mark claimed that a litany of problems are occurring because of the center, including littering, narcotics peddling and indecent exposure. He said he has called the police for drunk and disorderly behavior.

The Greater Broadway Partnership, an alliance of businesses on Broadway, has also become concerned about activities at the center. “We felt the operation of the recycling center was not being done in a responsible manner,” said Teresa Rocha, the partnership’s executive director.

Attempts to talk to employees and managers of the recycling center were unsuccessful. One of the recycling center’s workers declined to be quoted.

Mark said he was unsure about the status of the recycling center, saying “the words from Lisa Nava are (that) we don’t have any details on when the closure will happen or how it will happen.”

Photo by Kathleen Haley.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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Kathleen Haley

  • Are these folks claiming that citizens who process their recyclable items to get their refund are exposing themselves, buying and using illegal drugs, and going to the bathroom outdoors? What?

    • Thank you all for your spirited comments. Research into this matter showed that this particular recycling center 1) did not meet the state mandate for location within a ‘convenience zone’ and 2) did not have a valid operations permit when the City issued approval months ago. Since the recycling center has been in operation we have been inundated with the following daily: littering, urination and defecation , needles, condoms, panhandling, loitering, trespass, altercations with the drunk and disorderly, narcotics peddling, indecent exposure, dozens of stolen recycling containers dumped in the alley behind the recycling center and worse. Sac PD intervenes weekly. I’ve been part of the maintenance and safety crew attending to these difficulties over the past year. These are the voices of citizens concerned for the safety and cleanliness of their community, and asking for reciprocal common decency, not ‘yuppie progressives’.

  • There is a state law that mandates a recycling facility is located within a certain proximity to a grocery store of a certain size. Forgive my vagueness, I do not remember the distance and square footage requirements. Now that Target is in the grocery business this site may be harder to close than is thought*.

    *I am not advocating either way about the facility but stating the realities of the state requirements.

  • Sounds like Land Park “progressive” yuppie scum is upset about homeless types in their neighborhood turning in paper and plastic to be recycled. Oh, pleeeze. Only Curtis Park has worse yuppie scum. These are the same people who volunteer at Loaves & Fishes but don’t want the unwashed near their homes and religious centers. They bring NIMBY status to new lows with each passing day.

    • bye bye Sacpress

      Land Park “progressive” yuppie scum?

      I guess I am 3 out of 4 based on your pathetic attempt to categorize people into neat little buckets (not a “progressive” whatever that is)

      That Valero is my nearest gas station, and it can be pretty dodgy in the daytime. It can be even dodgier after dark (when the recycling center is closed) so clearly not all the problems can be linked directly to the recycling center alone.

      But during the course of a fill up it can be quite obvious that recycling cash is being converted directly into alcohol and drug purchases, not to mention general loitering, yelling, etc.

      I prefer NIABY-ism (Not In Anyones Backyard) to NIMBY-ism for this cr*p. Nobody in Sacramento should have to deal with this.

      Due to the incredible generosity andacceptance of the citizenry, concentration of social services and our mild climate, Sacramentans carry far more than its share of the homeless burden.

      If you choose take on an outsized share of the homeless problem in your neighborhood…kudos to you and your neighbors. But there is no reason to attack the residents of other neighborhoods simply because we are not all on the same crusade as you are.

    • David Watts Barton

      “Yuppie scum”??? Are we still at that stage of political discourse here? Yikes!

      C’mon Oracle…or to be fair, what kind of “scum” would you describe yourself as?

  • Denise Coleman

    Drug use and sales , public urination and defecation , and drunk and disorderly behavior unfortunately are a fact of life where our transient population congregate.
    The complaints of the Buddhist Church mentioned above are not isolated. As a relative of a board member of a mid town church experiencing the exact same issues, I understand the concerns of the Buddhist Church’s representative. The problems listed above are so out of control, the mid town church is considering disallowing the homeless to camp overnight on church property.
    An organization that provides services for children and the elderly,regardless of it’s location, should not have to worry about cleaning feces and drug paraphernalia away from the playground fence of their preschool and front steps or worry about their visitors being accosted by drunken people.

    • Dale Kooyman

      Are you sure that the problems in Midtown are due to transients? Your description of the misbehavior (“Drug use and sales, public urination and defecation and drunk and disorderly behavior”) fits exactly what many Midtown residents have experienced and complained about for years about many non-homeless but “transient” party-going inebriates who invade their properties each weekend.

      Let’s add seniors, residents and their children to your quote “An organization that provides services for children and the elderly,regardless of it’s location, should not have to worry about cleaning feces and drug paraphernalia away from the playground fence of their preschool and front steps or worry about their visitors being accosted by drunken people.”

      Where has the “board member” you reference been? His/her voice has been silent to help Midtown residents, which would be a nice “church” thing to do.

  • Denise Coleman

    @ Dale… I hesitate to name names in my comment because I am not a spokesman for the church I mentioned . I can assure you that the problem is the transient population… The church has a very dynamic homeless assistance program and currently allows many individuals to sleep on their property. Unfortunately the church does not have the financial resources to pay for security to police the ground every night when the ‘misbehaviors’ occur.
    By the way, I did mention children and the elderly(seniors) in my quote…

  • Sounds like the ” Drug use and sales, public urination and defecation and drunk and disorderly behavior” is coming from bums, (criminals without homes) and not from the homeless (as in widows and orphans)? The bums in our area are anything but “transient population”, as most of them are the same ones who have been breaking laws for many years.

    • Denise Coleman

      There are families that spend their nights at this location and the church does all it can to help…Unfortunately the ‘bum’ element ruins things for everybody .It would take unavailable resources to determine who the bad guys are and send them packing.

  • Dale Kooyman

    “The problems listed above are so out of control, the mid town church is considering disallowing the homeless to camp overnight on church property.” So you know for sure that the problems are in the church and/or or just adjacent to it, Is it the midtown Buddist church or the Lutheran church? In either case, the misbehavior is controllable on site if they have bathrooms, strict on site management, require their overnight guests to clean up after themselves and limit the number of those sleeping in the church.

  • Tom Armstrong

    I am both Buddhist and homeless, blogger of Sacramento Homeless [ sacramentohomeless.blogspot.com ], founder of the Blogisattvas [ blogisattva.org ], team writer for the Progressive Buddhism blog [ progressivebuddhism.blogspot.com ] and I am hugely in favor of recycling, and am a frequent writer for SacPress.

    I don’t really mean to whip out my cred so agressively — but what the hell.

    Anyone who is misbehaving should surely be dealt with directly. Efforts should be made such that the recycling center is a good neighbor and the Buddhist Church should be tolerant and helpful at finding solutions. AND people who group people in categories in order to direct their hate should grow up. People are INDIVIDUALS, they are not automatons like ants or Republican congressmen.

    I don’t know the specifics, but my guess is that the Buddhist Church members should want the recycling center to succeed as much as anybody. C’mon, you Buddhists, get you game on! Where’s your metta!!?

    Homeless people who collect cans do good for society. But many are, in Buddhist terms, “Hungry ghosts” who suffer mightily and are awash in their addictions. Have compassion!!

    Being homeless is a ridiculous circumstance, y’all have no idea! Finding a bathroom when you live on the street is a mighty chore, nowadays. At the same time, I do recognize that a lot of homeless people are fully servants of their ego. BUT, they are people; you do recognize yourself in each of them/us.

    I submit that the situation can be fixed. But the worst outcome would be to lose the recycling center and for a bunch of Buddhists [who, supposedly care about others’ suffering] to push “the problem” of homeless people involved in a gainful activity on to another section of the city.

    • bye bye Sacpress

      First off, thanks for the good reminders on compassion and understanding, Tom. We all need this once in awhile.

      I can’t speak for the Buddhist temple, but I know that they have a basketball court, gym, and after school activities there with a lot of kids coming and going in the afternoon. Many of these kids (and their parents) live in the area and are on foot.

      It might be a bit too much even for your typical Buddhist to have your kids walking past a congregation of rowdy homeless recyclers.

    • Tom Armstrong


      May be it is “too much” to have kids having to get past rowdy homeless people, but “If not there, where should the recycling place be?”

      I guess I am of a mind that ‘things situated where they are’ can be improved to accommodate everyone.

      Homeless people who collect bottles and cans are, in the majority of cases, doing something that is productive. They are scrappy!

  • bye bye Sacpress


    Based on observable evidence, most of the cans recovered by the homeless would have been recycled anyway. Which is why this morning you can see someone’s absconded blue bin sitting next to a stolen shopping cart under the freeway at 11th & X, right near the Valero & Buddhist Temple. And this is why every week the cans are fished out of the blue recycling bin at my home, but not the green garbage bin. And when we do river cleanups at Northgate & 160, we can come away with bags of recyclable cans and bottles right in the midst of dozens of homeless camps.

    So homeless can collecting may not be especially productive, as in providing a valuable, otherwise unmet service to the community. Actually in an economic sense, it is negative productivity since isignificant manpower is being exerted on a task that is redundant to the one already being done by city recycling trucks.

    So I think by “productive”, I think you actually mean this is an activity that occupies otherwise idle hands.

    The two base elements of this kind of “productivity” are Recovery (finding the cans) and Transportation (delivering the cans to 11th & Broadway). If in your view, transporting cans to 11th & Broadway provides a good productive element, then I would think transporting them to an industrial park somewhere in West Sacramento or Rocklin would increase “productivity” even further.

    So based on the homeless “productivity” argument alone, I can’t see a driving reason why their needs to be a recycling center at 11th and Broadway..

    But let’s be honest here. Homeless can collecting is a de facto taxpayer funded homeless subsidy. Through lack of enforcement, the city has accepted a certain amount of lost revenue potential from it’s recycling program. And then in a very undemocratic “survival of the fittest” fashion that city subsidy is distributed just to those who are scrappy enough to wake up early and dive into a recycling can. If there really is a challenge in finding sites for this de facto city subsidy program, then I would challenge you to challenge to city to find a suitable location. The city could offer up city hall, the city offices on Richards, or the city transfer station. And in this way the city could deal directly with neighborhood issues that might result from it’s own subsidy program.

    This approach makes a lot more sense than leaving it up to disinterested Buddhist temples and Valero gas stations owners who don’t even realize they are participants in a city subsidization program!

  • gene young

    Well its been two years since the recycling collections site was relocated, yet everyday I see trash pile up and smell the urine, take time to walk alleys in the area and you see and smell even worse, I happen to know that Valero won’t sale beer to anyone who appears to be drunk, and runs panhandlers away daily, I also see many homeless types hanging around the alley near said church and allowed to sleep,eat and leave there mess, sadly I also see non homeless people tossing trash out and using the area as a bathroom, so not all the problem is the homeless, but stupid uncaring morons that think itsok to destroy other peoples property.

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