Houston is making an attempt to curb renegade donation packing containers by demanding a allow and an annual payment of $ 191
The city council will be considering an ordinance on Wednesday that will regulate the approval of donation boxes in the city after some council members received complaints that the containers in their districts are overcrowded or attracting illegal dumping.
Vice Mayor Pro Tem Martha Castex-Tatum, who represents District K in southwest Houston, proposed the ordinance last fall after she said her office had received repeated complaints about trash cans turning into eyesores. Operators would set up trash cans without the owner’s permission, and some would bring piles of furniture and other forms of illegal dumping.
If approved, the new ordinance would require $ 191 for an unattended donation box approval. The cost, which some container operators found prohibitive, would be prohibitive. According to a Houston Police Department poll, there are roughly 285 trash cans in the city, though that’s likely an undercount. An operator, American Textile Recycling Service, told Chronicle that there are around 400 trash cans in the city.
Kristin Greene, a representative for that company, said she’ll likely have to cut that down to 100 or 150 containers if the ordinance passes at the proposed fee.
“I cannot say that we support such a high fee and wish the Council would reconsider it,” she said. “It’s not the trash can operators that have the problem, it’s the charity that is losing the money. I think you will see a lot of people who can’t afford to pay the fee.”
American Textile Recycling Services operates its trash cans for Houston Area Community Services, who sell the donated goods for approximately $ 7,000 monthly in sales. Now it will lose more than half that money, according to Greene.
Greene said she worked on 50 similar ordinances in other cities and states, most of which cost less than $ 100. The company supports the regulation’s intent to crack down on bad actors, even if it hopes the city will cut the fee. She said they would like to “sort out” the renegade trash cans, as did the councilors.
“Those of us who are legitimate have no problem following the rules,” Greene said.
The ordinance would require operators to get permission from the owner and submit a maintenance plan to the city, according to a presentation by the staff to council members earlier this year. It would also set a maximum size for the containers and require operators to display contact information on the container and make it clear that any items donated must be placed in it. Operators would need to take out commercial liability insurance of at least $ 1 million.
The trash cans may not be located on unpaved areas, among other things, within 25 feet of a driveway in a landscape buffer or setback, a drainage department, a floodplain, a driveway, a utility system, or a fire line.
Violations would be offenses that could result in a fine of $ 100 to $ 500.
For every 250 trash cans, the city would get about $ 54,000 a year in fees. A number of city officials said this was required to cover the approval process.
Greene wasn’t alone in the cost. Michael McLees, who works with another operator, also told council members that most fees in other cities are less than $ 100. He said that maintenance schedules often vary too, which could complicate the application process.
Kathryn Bruning, an assistant director of the city’s administrative and regulatory affairs department, told him the city is not looking for a time and date for maintenance. Instead, the city wants to ensure that the operators carry out regular checks and keep them clean.
This story will be updated.