In a 3-2 vote, Alhambra City Council banned on Monday donation bins in the city after staff argued the boxes are an "eyesore." Starting Sept. 30, only nonprofit organizations that own property in Alhambra may place a donation box on their lot.
"Some [donation bins] are more maintained than others, but I've seen from every single company that certain locations do become messy, do become blights," said Assistant to the City Manager Chris Paulson.
Approximately eight for-profit and non-profit organizations currently operate 19 donation boxes in the city, according to Assistant City Manager Tara Schultz. These organizations contract with individual business owners to operate and maintain a donation box at each location, such as Kohl's on Fremont Avenue and Mission Road or Albertsons on Fremont and Commonwealth Avenue.
City staff presented during the meeting photos of overflowing, trash-filled donation bins around Alhambra. Arguing that the bins are often improperly serviced, Paulson explained that when city code enforcement officers see the overflowing bins, they are forced to hold the property owner or business manager responsible for the cleanup.
"I've heard many complaints from the Costco manager that he has to frequently come out and clean up this kind of mess," Paulson said. "He also frequently cleans up beer bottles, alcohol bottles that are shattered — not just left but shattered — and more so he cleans up human feces."
Representatives from Planet Aid, a nonprofit that operates 11 donation bins in Alhambra, asked City Council during the meeting to work with nonprofits to maintain boxes in the city. Planet Aid Government Relations Specialist Michael Moore argued that the organization is responsive to maintenance calls and relies on the donations to maintain their operations.
"What we're trying to do is provide some sort of workable solution where bins aren't banned completely," Moore said.
The two votes against the ordinance came from Councilwoman Barbara Messina and Councilman Luis Ayala. Messina thought the ban on organizations outside of the city operating donation bins in Alhambra was "harsh" and Councilman Luis Ayala said it was a "shotgun approach" to eliminating blight.
Weren't able to attend the meeting? You can watch it in its entirety here.
City Council usually meets every second and fourth Monday of the month on the second floor of City Hall: 111 S. First St., Alhambra, Calif., 91801. The next meeting will be on Monday, July 22 at 5:30 p.m.