Trash Talkin'

Published in CSP Daily News

Oakland OKs fast-food litter tax

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland, Calif., City Council approved a measure Tuesday that would tax fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses to clean up the trash their products create, reported the Associated Press.

Despite protests from business owners, the council approved the measure six to one, making Oakland the first city in the nation to force eateries, food and liquor stores to chip in to clean up litter, industry officials said.

Businesses will be assessed between $230 and $3,815 annually, depending [image-nocss] on their size. More than three-quarters of the affected businesses would only pay the minimum fee, which amounts to 63 cents a day.

I don't think that's too much to ask so neighbors don't have to keep picking up trash from their doorways, said Councilwoman Jane Brunner, who proposed the new ordinance.

The city would use the projected $237,000 a year to hire small crews to pick up litter in commercial areas around high schools and middle schools where most of the garbage is found.

The fee was opposed by the Metropolitan Oakland Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of 55 business and community organizations who said the costs will be passed along to customers, including low-income residents and young people who are the biggest consumers of fast food.

Businesses said the city should educate the public and enforce littering laws. Some said they already pay employees to pick up trash in their neighborhoods.

Litter from fast-food restaurants has become a major problem in communities nationwide.