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Council May Regulate Donation Bins Scattered About Los Angeles

"They are a nuisance," says Councilman Mitch Englander.

Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

A Los Angeles City Council committee today asked the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance that would regulate stand-alone charitable donation collective boxes, with one councilman calling the some of the boxes a "nuisance."

The proposed ordinance would require companies to seek a yearly city permit and fee for the placement of unattended donation boxes.

The companies also would be tasked with providing a current phone number that would be fixed to the box.

"They are a nuisance. I absolutely move forward with an ordinance to regulate these," said Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the council's Public Safety Committee.

Englander pointed to the proliferation of the boxes, especially the ones on public right of ways and private property without permission and other locations that are difficult to enforce.

"When you see one box, you see two or three other companies put them up in the middle of the night," Englander said.

A representative from Planet Aid, which has 700 unattended charity boxes in Los Angeles and 20,000 nationwide, said the company welcomes regulation, adding that the service directs 20,000 tons of clothing that would otherwise be diverted to landfills.

--City News Service


Wade Larsen June 29, 2014 at 08:10 AM
The city council is right to crack down on donation bins. Indeed, reports across the country say some of the boxes cause blight and public right-of-way issues. Another worry is over out-of-town nonprofit and for-profit clothes collectors causing donations to dwindle at local charities. And some complain that non-local companies are getting a free ride ― paying no local taxes or fees ― even while little or none of the proceeds from their collections benefit the local populace. ////(paragraph break)//// Meanwhile, Planet Aid ― with the yellow bins ― seems to be trying to stand out from the competition by promoting itself as a law-abiding, “good-guy” clothes collector that welcomes regulation. The company might even try to show the city council “sample legislation” from other towns, which are likely the most watered-down and weak bin laws they could find. //////// The council-members should resist attempts by Planet Aid or others to play it like a Stradivarius violin and work out a strong bin ordinance. Ideally, the council should consider a permit fee per bin that is not only adequate to reimburse the city for staff time required during the application process and for regular inspections, but also take into account the real possibility of blight complaints and, most disconcerting, the likelihood of bins being placed without permits in open defiance of city regulations. //////// The council should also be aware that some bins are owned by for-profit companies, such as the green and white containers labeled “USAgain.” Thus, the wording of any bin ordinance should reflect this reality. On the other hand, it would be good if some kind of exemption could be made for local charities, as long as their bins were kept tidy. //////// Sadly, Planet Aid may be yet another “charity” that, upon closer inspection, isn’t so charitable after all. Planet Aid has faced a storm of media criticism for disturbing reasons. For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs. //////// Google search: CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid's Recycling Program //////// (Continued in my 2nd comment)
Zookeeper91326 June 29, 2014 at 02:58 PM
Lobbying "A coalition of smaller charities in California have complained about Goodwill's support for legislation encouraging greater regulation of donation boxes,[34] calling the efforts an “attempt to corner the clothing donation market and make more money.”[35] Local Goodwills have argued that donation boxes divert money from the community and contribute to blight, and have pushed for state legislation that requires owners of a donation box to clearly display information about whether it was a for-profit or nonprofit organization.[34]" WiKi
E Sherwood June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM
You have to drive for blocks to see even one bin, and it's not in the way of business, and seldom is the lid ajar. We have VERY serious crime issues, unemployment, and many parts of the valley now resemble Tijuana. This topic is a total waste of time and tax payer money.

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