Editorial: Long overdue

August 1, 2014 Editorial Staff
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The City Council has finally taken on a problem that has been plaguing Brooklyn neighborhoods for far too long – the large, unsightly clothing collection boxes that are unceremoniously left on city streets, often by for-profit companies, made to sound as if they are charitable organizations.

It’s probably been a decade since the first of the bins hit the borough, but they have been proliferating rapidly in recent years, creating a nuisance on numerous levels.

They obstruct the sidewalk, a situation that becomes even worse as the areas around them become dumping grounds, and worse again when local residents rummage through the bins, taking out garments, trying them on, and leaving the rejects strewn around.

But, a loophole in the laws governing the boxes allowed them to remain. While the city’s Department of Sanitation can issue violations to boxes placed on the city street, they currently cannot be removed till a 30-day waiting period has expired.

While that is ostensibly to allow the responsible party the time to remove the bins, what it really has become is carte blanche for those placing the clothing bins, who can leave them in place till the 29th day, then pick them up, collect the “donated” clothing, and move them to another location, where they have not yet been declared in violation.

Then the whole scenario is played out again.

That is likely about to change.

Legislation just introduced in the City Council with the full support of the speaker would allow Sanitation to remove inappropriately placed bins immediately, and would allow fines beginning at $250 for a first offense (and going up to $500 per offense for repeat offenders) to be assessed against those who place the bins.

If the bins can be picked up as quickly as they are declared in violation, that would short-circuit the whole unsavory process, disincentivizing a practice that, up until now, has had few downsides for those responsible.

We fully support the legislation, and hope it moves quickly through the Council and is rapidly approved by the mayor.

The borough’s neighborhoods, and those who reside in them, deserve no less.

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