January 5, 2009
A Bad New Year's Resolution from the City Council
Sometime soon, the council will hear a proposed ordinance revision which makes it illegal for the underclass to remove anything from your garbage and greenwaste containers, in addition to the recycling container which is already off-limits. Thankfully, residents are still allowed to retrieve items mistakenly thrown away and to allow extremely-low-income entrepreneurs to cherry-pick.This proposal is alleged to offer all kinds of vague benefits. Many terrible things that can happen will, it is implied, not happen because marginal people will be further restricted. But no data is presented about injuries, pests, identity theft or other crimes.
Have there really been any cases of identity theft by scavengers? If they are that sophisticated, why are they on the street? And fighting blight is like fighting terror; both are ideas and incapable of direct data. If the council wants to protect the public, how about cracking down on the many viciously loud motorcycles which blight our streets and assault our ears? Or we could ban leafblowers and create jobs.
This ordinance should only be amended to make it illegal for anybody to throw away anything that's still useful. Reportedly, some neighborhoods are excellent hunting grounds for gathering perfectly edible food from garbage cans. Donation to Sacramento's hungry should be required for edible food.
More durable goods, many still perfectly useful, can be found in the junk pick-up piles. This is an ideal opportunity for the city to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, by making sure we minimize waste by using what we have and only landfilling things that are actually no longer useful to anyone. (Council items could be presented on much less paper than this one uses.) How many trips to Nevada could be reduced this way? Why don't we have an Urban Ore outlet here?
This ordinance is as likely to solve the scavenging problem as for a rich man to enter heaven. Bandaids don't work for gaping wounds like PTSD, starvation and homelessness. The rationale for this proposal includes protecting scavengers from illness and injury, but until the city protects them from starvation and freezing I can't take their concern seriously.
If the city is serious about reducing crime, reducing hunger and hopelessness will be their first priority. Passing stupid ordinances will be off the list.