A number of Oakland’s poorest residents and their supporters showed up at this week’s City Council meeting, asking council members to intervene to save Alliance Metals in West Oakland, a recycling center that is the only source of income of hundreds of people.
Responding to complaints of neighbors, the city is closing down the business, located at 3426 Peralta St., effective Aug. 20.
According to a newsletter produced by City Attorney Barbara Parker, she takes credit for the closure, which will leave many of the company’s customers without income.
Many of the complaints have had to do with those who come to the center with shopping carts full of recycling.
“Approximately 400 families are going to be affected by the closing of this recycling center,” said Rev. Dr. Lawrence VanHook of Community Christian Church for Christ.
“Nobody has spoken to the people who are going to be affected by this closure,” he said.
Pastor Raymond Lankford of Healthy Oakland told council members he has been working to mediate the conflict.
“We are asking that this council consider working together as an Oakland community to address the plight of this community,” he said.
Rev. Dr. Jasper Lowery Jr. of Urojas Community Services said the city has to help “people who are being disenfranchised and can’t afford to stay in the city where they were born and raised when you take away (the business of the) recycling plant.”
Responding, Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney said she would work to mediate the issue.
City Attorney Parker, writing in a September 2015 email newsletter, discussed the closure of Alliance Metals.
“I am very pleased to announce that during our negotiations, Alliance agreed to give up its (city license) and close its doors by August 20, 2016. If the business remains open after that date, Alliance will owe the City $1,000 per day until it closes,” she wrote.
Citing the complaints of neighbors, Parker said, “Alliance accepts stolen metal, encouraging theft of fences, construction materials and other items in the area, and the thieves use the money they get from Alliance to buy drugs in the park across the street. Blight and trash have been constant problems.”
According to the newsletter, the center has gotten 42 citations for nuisance, 35 of which were for blocking (by walking) the public right of way.
Over 60 percent of walk-in customers, who have housing, will lose that housing, increasing Oakland’s homelessness by 200 to 300 people, according to an article by Rena Rickles from Street Spirit republished in the Post.
The recycling center had all the required permits to purchase recycled materials from walk-in customers carrying recyclables in shopping carts, Rickles wrote. The permit was first granted in 1995 and reviewed in 2009, and it sets out the conditions for the center to serve walk-in customers.
“The Oakland Planning Commission, in three successive hearings, after listening to the complaints of nuisance, blight, and illegal activities and personally visiting the recycling center, voted unanimously that the recycling center was not a nuisance,” Rickles said.