Unattended collection bins that have been linked to companies that use the proceeds donated to generate profit have come under fire in San Joaquin County.
In a scathing report from the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury, bins that have been linked to companies like Hayward-based USAgain – which, according to the report received 60 million pounds of clothing in 2011 and sold the majority for profit in Latin America and Africa –are believed to have led to a decline in donations to charitable organizations like The Salvation Army and Goodwill and often do not efficiently describe where donations will be distributed.
And tonight, the City of Lathrop will respond to the report and its findings and consider adopting an ordinance that regulate the placement of the bins in the community and the requirements to do so.
“Unattended donation bins operated by for profit organizations are unsightly and can become safety hazards. They deprive local charities of donations that benefit our community providing services and jobs. They generally do not make clear that the bins are placed by for profit companies which confuses donors making charitable donations,” the summary of the Grand Jury report concluded. “Understaffed code enforcement offices and confusion about whose responsibility it is to remove unwanted bins has led to a lack of action. Implementation of local ordinances is an important tool in preventing this problem and will generate additional income to the county and its cities that could go towards code enforcement efforts.”
Lathrop city staff is recommending accepting the Grand Jury’s reports and approving the distribution of a response from City Attorney Salvador Navarrete that agrees with nearly all findings but takes issue with the claim that donations to the bins – which have popped up all over San Joaquin County including in the cities of Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon – are taking away from the donations that would be received by recognized non-profit organizations that benefit the community.
Lathrop is also making a distinction in one of the findings that they have no authority to dictate private property rights.
A law, however, that was authored by then-Assemblywoman and now State Senator Cathleen Galgiani would have prevented the need for the intervention of the Grand Jury and individual municipalities had it been enacted.
When AB 1978, which would have required the written consent of a property owner before a collection bin could be placed on his or her property and also provided a mechanism for the removal of unwanted bins, was introduced, it had bi-partisan support in the legislature and overwhelmingly passed the Assembly and got a nod from the Senate before being vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
“I support the author’s goal of giving property owners more tools to enforce their property writes,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “However, I believe the language can be more narrowly crafted to avoid unintended consequences to local charities and nonprofits.”