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DTSC Brings Together EJ Group, Business Group Over Shared Auto Dismantler Concerns

N o one knew where it would lead when DTSC Deputy Director for Enforcement and Emergency Response Gale Filter introduced the Environmental Justice group Pacoima Beautiful to the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association.

But one thing was sure: The two groups shared common concerns.

Working to make the environment and health better for working class residents of the EJ community of Pacoima in northeast San Fernando Valley, Pacoima Beautiful had zeroed in on a section of town that was densely packed with auto dismantlers. The organization worried that environmental regulations were not well known among the workers and might even be ignored outright by dismantlers who might not be properly licensed. (Dismantlers are hazardous waste generators and need to properly manage and handle such toxic items as car batteries, antifreeze, Freon, oil, tires and the like in order to avoid environmental contamination.)

Meantime, the auto dismantlers association, which represents licensed dismantlers in California, alerted DTSC to unlicensed dismantlers and said they’re unfair competition to legitimate businesses that follow environmental and licensing regulations. So DTSC facilitated a working group to explore the issues. Besides Pacoima Beautiful and SCADA, the Los

Angeles Certified Unified Progam Agency (CUPA) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) joined in.

Discussions led to the firstever meeting of state agencies, nonprofit organizations and auto dismantler business operators to discuss dismantler issues. Convening the May 29, 2009, session in Pacoima was California Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, DPacoima. The session set the stage for action.

Soon after, the DMV Lincoln Park District Investigations Office targeted unlicensed dealer operations in the Pacoima, Arleta and Sylmar areas and issued 51 misdemeanor citations for unlicensed activity, made two felony arrests for possession of counterfeit documents and identity theft and impounded 37 vehicles. Additionally, legislation proposed by SCADA and carried by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (AB 805) was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on October 11, 2009. It requires the DMV to investigate, within the department’s statutory 120day period, whether a DMV dismantler applicant has the necessary permits, numbers and plans mandated by law.


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