The mess on East 20th Street

There’s no win-win scenario for the public and Chico Scrap Metal

Chico Scrap Metal has not been a good neighbor. The business has polluted its East 20th Street property, and its owners have been obstinate in virtually every way, from balking on orders from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to clean up the site to ignoring city amortization orders.

Next Tuesday, May 3, during the City Council’s regular meeting, the panel will consider whether to allow CSM to stay put. We believe the conservative members will vote in favor of the recycler, despite the business being given many years to find a new location. Additionally, we believe one council member, Andrew Coolidge, will continue to take part in discussions when the right thing to do would be to recuse himself due to his ties to CSM’s owners, the Scott family (Coolidge worked for them and took campaign contributions from them).

Allowing CSM to stay in its current location is a bad move. Having said that, there’s something that smacks of unfairness when it comes to forcing the business to shut down operations there. That’s because it would be the second time the city gives the business the boot (CSM was forced to move from its original location back in the 1980s).

Unfortunately, we can’t come up with a win-win scenario here.

If, by some miracle, CSM is shot down, the Scott family likely will sue the city. If the council allows the business to stay, opponents likely will organize a referendum to overturn that decision. It’s going to be an uphill battle for them considering the fact that the residents most affected by CSM—those in unincorporated Chapmantown—do not count as a signatories for the measure.

In hindsight, approval of the business’ move to its current location, next to an existing neighborhood, was a huge mistake. Either way it goes on Tuesday, we envision many more years of controversy and legal wrangling.