Retaining Infinity Salvage
My name is Mike Baker and I am writing to you to make you aware of a dire situation that I am faced with and would like to appeal to you for some help for not only my family but the families of my employees and the citizens of San Mateo County. I realize that you are busy with many important things to do in your position but one of the most important issues to deal with today is the responsible recycling of automobiles.
I have owned and operated a small business called Infinity Salvage in the now City of East Palo Alto for 28 years. We recycle automobiles and the hazardous materials that are in them. There has been an auto recycling facility on this property for 50 years and it is located on the only two acres of industrial property, other than Romic Chemical who I am on the other side of, in East Palo Alto.
There is not a better place in the whole of San Mateo County to have this type of facility as long as Romic is allowed to operate. There are tankers full of chemicals coming down Bay Road 24 hours a day. In fact, Romic has 5 acres of property that is empty that I would be glad to operate a larger auto recycling facility for the County of San Mateo which could be state of the art, if that would seem necessary in the future. However, I am now faced with the forced closing of my business by the City of East Palo Alto which is being illegally done because it is breaking State & Federal Redevelopment Law.
The former Mayor R.B. Jones told us in the City Council meeting Dec. 16, 1996 in which they were voting on Ordinance 209 that "you auto wreckers are in a redevelopment area and we want you gone so we don't have to deal with you when redevelopment comes." We were told a week prior to this Dec. 9, 1996 by the City of East Palo Alto in a meeting to explain Ord 209 with David Miller (Director of Planning & Public Works) that after 2003 we would be able to continue our business until redevelopment came, and when it came, we would be relocated or paid 5 years of our revenue according to redevelopment law.
Then in Mar. 2002, we were told to get out of business by the end of 2002 with no compensation.
We are the last auto recycling facility in the whole of San Mateo County which is unfathomable when you consider the hundreds of thousands of cars that are in this County coupled with the huge problem of illegal abandoning of them in the Cities streets. If you are not aware of the situation just ask the owners of the towing companies and the Police Chiefs in the surrounding communities. We have recycled cars for most of the towing companies in San Mateo County and from the citizens of every community over the years. The responsible people that call me and I say we will come and tow their unwanted car away are very happy because it is a difficult service to find today. We have over 1000 signatures on our petition from customers and citizens of San Mateo County.
We sell used parts to keep people's cars running whether it is their only car to get to work or their classic automobile that they take pride in. Coming to our place of business for these services has been a tradition and we are working with the 3rd generation of customers now. It is rewarding to see a parent bring their son or daughter down to get parts for their first car or perhaps look for a classic to fix up.
This is America and the automobile plays a large role in our lives. According to Gray Davis' statistics, California purchases 10% of the vehicles in America today and the Bay Area is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the State. I cannot comprehend the fact that the leaders of San Mateo County would allow the last legal State Dismantler in the County to be forced out of business for no good reason. There is no development happening right now for my property nor is there apt to be any in 5 to 10 years depending on when the economy turns around.
Perhaps there is a hidden agenda that I don't know about, but would appreciate being told. I cannot understand that cities love the new car dealer because they generate so much revenue but they do not support the businesses that recycle these cars at the end of their life cycle. What we do is going to become even more necessary next year in San Mateo County with the phase 1 smog going into operation.
San Mateo County needs to take the responsibility to recycle their own cars and not expect another county to come in and take their cars. Especially since the largest metal recycling corporation in the world (Sims Metals) has an auto processing facility right here in Redwood City. We are only a few miles from this facility so why close our business and then transport cars out of the County and then back in to recycle them. This uses unnecessary fuel resources and adds to the air pollution with the trucks moving the cars. The automobile adds 70% of the carbon monoxide and much particulate matter, along with 50% of the smog to the Bay Area air according to BAAQMD.
Infinity Salvage recycles on the average 6 cars a day and have been doing so for 28 years so imagine the impact that has made and hopefully will continue to make. We have been a leader in the dismantling industry and have all the necessary permits and receipts for recycling of the environmental wastes. I am proud to be part of the solution for cleaning up the Bay Area's air along with the recycling of the metals and liquids. On a personal background note I went to San Mateo High School and scored in the top 1% on the country in the SAT tests. Then I went to College of San Mateo where I received awards for scholarship. I then graduated from Chico State University with a 3.8 average in Political Science & a minor in Philosophy. I was going to attend Hastings Law School but decided to try and save money from running this business to go which never happened. I was one of the founding members of IDEA in the City of East Palo Alto and belong to the State & Local Dismantlers Association.
I have a State Dismantlers License & a State Verifiers License and an impeccable record. I am hoping that the City of East Palo Alto Council will simply send me my application for my business license but none of them have contacted me to discuss my business after I wrote the Council and asked for a meeting in Sept of this year and also recently when I sent a letter to the two new Council members welcoming them and appealing for their help.
So now I am writing you for some help and I will also write the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, ABAG, the other local city leaders, along with our State and Federal representatives. I believe that there must be some leaders out there who share my believe that recycling automobiles does demand some respect and ought to not only be preserved but supported.
I strongly feel that motor vehicles need to have a "cradle to grave" law put into effect where there is an initial deposit fee paid upon the purchase of a new vehicle to pay for the costs involved with recycling that car at the end of it's life. This could be a $500 deposit fee that is put into a pool of money administered by the State in which the new car is sold & would collect interest throughout the life of the car. At the point where the car is recycled by a licensed dismantler the funds would be paid to process the car between all agencies involved including the police who tag the car, the City where the car is abandoned, the tow company that tows the car, the dismantler that clears the car, the City in which the dismantling operation is located, the processing facility where it is recycled, and the State who has administered the funds. This fee could also be collected by the owner of the car who legally turns the car in for recycling so it would virtually eliminate abandoned vehicles. The "cradle to grave" method ought to apply also to the manufactures of the products that are used in automobiles and need to be recycled separate from the vehicle including gas, oil, antifreeze, batteries, tires, etc. These manufacturers should supply the auto recycler with the equipment to recycle those products and come pick them up and pay the recycler for handling them. After all, they are making the profit off these products.
These things should be mandated by law -- if we can do this for a lowly beverage container why can't we do it for the automobile? There also should be a law requiring every county at a minimum and every city over a certain size to have auto dismantling facilities to process their cars. The cities that do not have the proper ratio of dismantling facilities handling autos per capita need to have funds denied them or be levied a fee which would go to the cities that process their cars.
I am sending your President Jerry Hill a copy of the binder I presented to the City of East Palo Alto. Please look at and read the materials and give me a call and also call the East Palo Alto City Council and help save my business. I share your mission & vision for the County.
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