Code Enforcement?

By way of introduction, I was a member of the ad hoc community group that lobbied for regulations governing the operation of Unattended Donation Clothing Boxes that ultimately resulted in passage of the ordinance that does just that. In addition, I created the website as part of that campaign and it continues to serve (to some extent) as a source of information about local non-profits that gladly accept donations as well as info about those which don’t give back to Oakland residents.

As far as I know, no permits have thus far been issued for legally installed collection boxes and there have been surprisingly few violations — most of which have been resolved via phone calls requesting their removal. In the few cases that I’m aware of where the bin operators have not complied, Code Enforcement has failed to enforce the clearly defined regulations including assessing fees up to $5,000 in one calendar year.

This was the case with two bins benefitting Law Enforcement Against Drugs that were installed at the Chevron station at 350 Grand Avenue. My first complaint regarding these bins was in the form of a January 31, 2021 email to city staff with whom I’d become acquainted during the lobbying process and after the city had been sued by Recycle for Change which had challenged the legality (all the way up to the Supreme Court) of the city ordinance.

On February 2, I received replies from Alicia Leighton and Sandra Smith:

On May 7, I provided an update

On July 22, I expressed my personal frustration which prompted a reply from Rich Fielding on the 27th.


Shortly thereafter, Code Enforcement had the two bins removed from the 350 Grand location. Parenthetically, I have to cut Code Enforcement some slack since all this occurred in the midst of a pandemic during which I personally sheltered in place. That said, their actions (or lack of same) during the past year as things were returning to normal were still far short of what we should have expected. 

Within a year,  the two LEAD bins in the Chevron station at 350 Grand were reinstalled at exactly the same location. I’m not sure when I filed a second complaint but it’s at least six months ago. What was equally egregious is that Recycle for Change, the operators who sued the city to prevent implementation of the ordinance, placed two bins in the parking lot of the Lucky store on E. 18th St. despite virulent opposition from the store opposition. I’ll have to delve further into my email notifications to confirm when exactly I filed a complaint but I believe it was in November and the bins were there for at least five months. My question in both cases is what took so long and were any of the fines stipulated in the ordinance ever assessed and collected. If not the bins operators which aren’t based in Oakland and don’t pay taxes and aren’t paying permit fees are getting off scott-free.

One other note: if you’d like to track a new complaint that I just filed on Wednesday, it’s regarding a bin on the corner of 73rd Avenue and Halliday. To the list of violations, it also sits right on the property line — not the required 5-feet setback. Here’s a link: