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Laurel merchants decry new trash fees. (I don't blame them)

Oakland Councilmember (District 1- North Oakland) Jane Brunner pictured here
This fee -- reported by Oakland Tribune Columnist Peggy Stinnett -- was Oakland Councilmember Jane Brunner's idea, and a bad one. It's amazing that a city with almost 10,000 acres of land giving tax money to its redevelopment agency, that a part of that can't be used for trash collection rather than burdening business people.

Here's part of the Stinnett column:

ENOUGH is enough, says Maureen Dorsey of the Laurel District Business Investment District.
The ink is barely dry on a city agreement with Laurel merchants to form a BID, following in the footsteps of other Oakland business districts such as Lakeshore, Montclair and Rockridge.

Now the city wants to add another charge to pay for trash collectors.

"This is ridiculous," says Dorsey, and you can hear a chorus behind her calling "Yeah, yeah."Opponents are planning to speak their minds when the City Council Community and Economic Development Committee meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall. Chairwoman of the CEDA committee is Councilmember Jane Brunner, who represents District 1.

The agreement calls for BIDs to assess their members for improvements that make the districts more attractive. It's not cheap.

Good things have happened in districts with the arrangement, but Dorsey thinks the line must be drawn on this idea for good reasons.

For one thing, the money will only go into the city's General Fund, says Dorsey, where it could easily get lost in the shuffle.

The money raised would pay for two people to pick up the trash on business district sidewalks each week. But the city already has an ordinance that makes littering against the law and requires all businesses — not just BID members — to remove litter in front of their establishments every day.

She says districts to be affected will be Laurel, Dimond, Montclair, Brookdale, Allendale, Redwood Heights, Lincoln Square and part of Maxwell Park.

But not downtown, where I see trash on every block when I walk along Broadway? The only place that stays clean is Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall, where someone is out there every day cleaning.

Does this sound like a public works employment program or what?

Dorsey says: "This is an assessment in disguise. One needs to question the legality of a fee that is actually a tax without those being taxed actually voting on it."

The charge will not affect all businesses. Excluded are delicatessens and grocery stores larger than 40,000 square feet or stores that sell a large assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh-cut meat. It sure sounds like a selective search was made to determine who should be charged.
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