City Waging War on Nuisance Clothing Collection Bins

L & I Commissioner David Perri announced the crackdown this week. 70 have been targeted in the effort's first phase.

Photo | Streets Department

Photo | Streets Department

At noon Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney, Licenses and Inspections Commissioner David Perri and several other city officials met at Nicetown Court Apartments to discuss a big, intrusive, unsightly problem that sat just one block away — a clothing donation bin.

The bins that are present throughout the city have been classified as “nuisances,” “eye sores,” and simply urban blight. Now the L&I department is cracking down on them. They’ve already got a list of 70 which will be the first to go in the first phase of its crack-down.

“Throughout the city, these clothing donation bins have been placed in the public right-of-way, residential areas and parking lots without permission,” said Karen Guss, a spokeswomen for L&I. “[There are] projects trying to beautify the neighborhood and they’re getting undermined by these big, ugly bins.”

Aside from the bins’ unsightly nature and their tendency to overflow, other complaints include that the bins have caused sanitation problems such as attracting vermin and dumping. They’re even been linked to illicit drug usage.

“These boxes have become a way of storing the drug product and hiding it from the police, and become part of the crime culture,” City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, told the Daily News. Bass has long been an advocate of bin removal. In fact, the bill she proposed to regulate the placement of the bins triggered L&I’s crackdown.

The donation bins also came under fire last year after it was discovered that many were run by for-profit companies — thus duping the well-intentioned residents of Philadelphia. Planet Aid, which according the Daily News owns half of the 70 illegal bins, has endured its fair share of controversy after it scored poorly with Charity Watch. The company which is listed as a non-profit was said to have only spent 25 percent of its expenses on programs for the needy.

Nonprofits like Goodwill and Salvation Army don’t partake heavily in bin usage. The Daily News reports that Goodwill has no bins in Philadelphia and the Salvation Army has 5 which are located on their property.

Cindy Bass staffer Patrick W. Jones has posted some of the progress on Twitter:

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