Goliath: Sims Metal Management is the world’s largest metal recycler with a net revenue of $5.1 million and a value of $2.8 billion. The company is plagued with fires in its scrapyards around the world, including Richmond earlier this year. In 2013. Sims was fined $4.1 million for buying stolen scrap in California. Sims is the epitome of a bad neighbor.
David: Across the street from Sims and several hundred feet away in a modest industrial building is Anaviv, a small catering company specializing in farm to table cuisine owned by Chef Arnon Oren. Anaviv has applied for a conditional use permit to operate a small restaurant at its catering kitchen site. The site is zoned for restaurant use with a conditional use permit, which was granted by the Richmond Planning Commission on January 18, 2018. In fact there is already a restaurant, Burger King (“Home of the Whopper”) much closer to Sims.
Sims Metal Management appealed the Planning Commission decision to the City Council and was able to continue delaying a hearing for months, essentially denying Anaviv the opportunity to proceed. Finally, the appeal will be heard at the May 1, 2018, City Council meeting. In its appeal, Sims cited vague concerns including Improper reliance on “existing facilities” CEQA exemption, the “unusual circumstances” exemption and “cumulative impact” exception apply, failure to analyze and support consistency with General Plan and Specific Plan and violation of Knox SP, all of which Planning staff deemed inappropriate and inapplicable.
As a proposed resolution, Sims requested that Anaviv sign a document waiving any rights against Sims in the future and including:
The eating establishment is located in an industrially zoned section of the City of Richmond, and immediately adjacent to and near industrially zoned and operated properties. The applicant acknowledges that industrial uses at the surrounding industrial properties may result in inconveniences or discomfort to applicant or customers from noise, dust, vibrations, odors, air emissions, industrial and other heavy vehicle traffic, and visual impacts such as from industrial materials and equipment. In particular, the applicant, its employees and customers may be subject to: (1) loud noises from outdoor industrial, manufacturing or fabrication processes or movements of outdoor industrial materials (including loading and unloading into or out of ship holds or other bulk cargo storage areas) or from movement or horns of trains, trucks, ships or other motor vehicles; (2) dust and odors generated from the metal, glass, ceramic and other industrial, manufacturing or fabricating processes or movements of outdoor industrial materials (including loading and unloading into or out of ship holds or other bulk cargo storage areas) or exhaust fumes from trains, trucks, ships or other motor vehicles; (3) vibrations generated from trains or trucks or during the outdoor industrial, manufacturing or fabrication processes or movements of related materials (including loading and unloading into or out of ship holds or other bulk cargo storage areas); (4) industrial lights from buildings, outdoor operations, parking areas and driveways or trucks and locomotives at all hours of the day or night, and (5) views of outdoor industrial activities and materials. The applicant acknowledges that these impacts are the expected result of operating a commercial eating establishment in an industrial area.
Sims also requested that Anaviv post the following in its restaurant:
This restaurant is located in an industrially zoned section of the City immediately adjacent to an active railroad and scrap metal recycling facility entitled to operate seven days per week, 24 hours per day. Diners may experience noise, nighttime industrial lights, dust, vibrations, odors, air emissions, industrial and other heavy vehicle traffic, and visual impacts such as from industrial materials and equipment.
I told Arnon that the Sims request was essentially extortion and that he should not agree to it. I also told him that I thought the City Council would support him in the appeal. Arnon decided to proceed with fighting the appeal.
Then Sims upped the ante, threatening that if Arnon prevailed in the appeal , Sims would sue the City and Anaviv would be forced to defend the City pursuant to the indemnification clause that is standard for all conditional use permits. With legal the power behind a multinational corporation like Sims, defending the City could bankrupt Anaviv.
This puts Arnon between a rock and a hard place. Should he stand up to Sims’ extortion and risk bankruptcy, or should he capitulate?
I told him that I support him 100% and would even be willing to vote to waive the City’s requirement for indemnification. I don’t know what my City Council colleagues will do, but City staff is urging Anaviv to capitulate and is warning against waiving the indemnification.
I have to tell you that, in my opinion, what Sims is doing is pure evil, using intimidation against a legally operating successful small business for the purpose of protecting Sims’ sleazy and dangerous operation. I can’t believe such a thing is even legal. This is not the first time Sims has used intimidation against others who want to develop n Richmond. A couple of years ago, Sims brought a lawsuit against the developer of Baywalk, a proposed residential project at Wright and Marina Way South. Only when I agendized a review of Sims’ conditional use permit did they back off.
I am asking the good people of Richmond to consider attending the May 1 City Council meeting to defend Anaviv and let Sims’ know that we will not tolerate intimidation like this in Richmond. If you can’t attend, show your support to City Councimembers via email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Jaelpmyrick@yahoo.com; Ada_Recinos@ci.richmond.ca.us; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Ben_Choi@ci.richmond.ca.us; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, let City staff know that you do not appreciate their aiding and abetting extortion, bullying and threats against legitimate small businesses.