"Now, there are approximately 80 to 85 donation bins throughout the city," says community activist Ken Katz. He wants the city to regulate them because of the kind of trash the bins attract. Behind some bins on Telegraph Avenue, people dumped a few mattresses, a sofa, a book case, and several other large items.
At Oakland City Hall, a special committee heard arguments on why they should regulate the bins and require the owners of these boxes to keep the area clean. "If there is any trash around the area within 20 feet of their box, they have to pick it up and remove it. That's seven days a week," Katz said.
Right now, anything dumped there is eventually picked up by community groups or the city. The committee is also proposing that operators of the bins purchase a permit -- a yearly fee of $650.
USAgain operates several bins. "We also agree that people in this industry have to be regulated. We consider ourselves a good operator. We operate in 18 different states," Weston Labar told ABC7 News. USAgain is also controversial because it's a for-profit company.
While they say they are keeping millions of items from getting into our landfills, they also make money by selling what they collect. None of the companies pay taxes to the city of Oakland on their earnings.
The Salvation Army, which also has a few boxes, says it also cuts into their business. "It takes money out of the community. It takes products away from folks who need it," Maj. Jack Phillips said,
The issue will eventually be taken up by the full council.