The long fight

A brief overview of Chico Scrap Metal’s history of conflict

The Chico City Council is expected to make a final decision about Chico Scrap Metal’s fate soon, during one of its regular Tuesday meetings. The following timeline of events was compiled from the CN&R’s archive and other news reports, interviews, city planning documents and correspondence between CSM and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

1983: The city of Chico orders George Scott Sr. to relocate Discount Auto Wreckers from its location at 1197 Humboldt Ave. With financial assistance from the city, Scott complies, opening Chico Scrap Metal on East 20th Street. The site had been home to auto-wrecking businesses since at least the 1960s, according to city planning documents.

Jan. 25, 2000: Butte County supervisors approve the Chapman/Mulberry Neighborhood Plan, which calls for the amortization—or moving—of CSM and other businesses within 10 years due to zoning and allowed use changes.

Oct. 5, 2004: City of Chico adopts the Chapman/Mulberry Neighborhood Plan.

2006: City Council orders CSM to move within five years.

May 2007: Investigators from the DTSC find contaminants including chromium, lead, zinc and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) at CSM on East 20th Street and three other locations owned by the Scott family (one in Durham and two in Oroville). The agency orders the Scotts to clean up all four sites.

May 2008: Citing unsatisfactory cleanup efforts more than 300 days after the DTSC order, the Butte County District Attorney’s Office files criminal charges against George Scott Sr.

October 2008: A week before Scott faces trial by jury, he strikes a plea bargain and pleads no contest to two misdemeanor counts, agreeing to pay investigative and cleanup fees totaling $381,000, with an additional $500,000 suspended pending cleanup. Scott later appeals the deal, claiming inadequate legal representation and faulty DTSC testing, beginning years of legal appeals.

Fall 2009: Scott and other business owners form Citizens for Economic Balance, a political action committee that attempts to unseat District Attorney Mike Ramsey and replace him with Sacramento DUI attorney Lance Daniel. Current City Councilman Andrew Coolidge was the PAC’s paid public relations consultant.

Nov. 1, 2011: Citing high moving costs and a poor economic climate, Kim Scott requests an extension on the order to move. An extension until Dec. 31, 2014, is allowed by the council with the caveat that no further extensions be granted.

Nov. 11, 2011: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denies Scott’s appeal of his 2008 conviction.

Jan. 17, 2014: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also denies the appeal.

Dec. 2, 2014: Kim Scott asks permission from the council for CSM to continue operating after the Dec. 31 deadline and negotiate a plan to allow them to stay. In his first action as a newly minted councilman, Coolidge moves to agendize the discussion at a future meeting. CSM continues to operate.

Jan. 6, 2015: Council orders planning department staff to work with CSM to develop a process to stay put.

April 21, 2015: Council orders CSM to propose a development plan with aesthetic and operational changes and submit the application within 60 days.

June 2015: CSM fined $300 for violating zoning codes after failing to submit application in time.

Sept. 25, 2015: CSM holds a public meeting in Chapmantown to introduce proposed aesthetic changes.

Dec. 31, 2015: Move the Junkyard holds a rally outside of CSM to commemorate one year since the end of its last extension.

Feb. 18, 2016: The city’s Planning Commission votes against the planning department’s recommendation that the City Council approve CSM’s development agreement and the company’s request to remove amortization orders.

—Ken Smith