February 11, 2006

Litter control: Oakland's new tax

Cities the world over have instituted many types of litter control programs. To some, a littered neighborhood or city suggests a poor place to do business, a lack of control over people and space, and a lack of care on the part of the residents. One might challenge these perceptions by considering public service equity, for example, how frequently do waste collectors visit neighborhoods? Is there a disparity among neighborhood clean-up? The Australian city of Maribyrnong enacted the Is Your Butt worth $200 campaign to discourage cigarette butt littering. (http://www.maribyrnong.vic.gov.au/Page/Page.asp?Page_Id=1944&h=0) South Carolina has three levels of penalties associated with littering: a minimum fine of $200 plus court fees, a maximum fine of $1087 plus court fees, and jail time between 30 days and 1 year. (http://www.palmettopride.org/litterlaws.htm) Singapore has very strict littering laws but the country also sponsors an educational program. (http://www.rgs.edu.sg/student/cyberfair2002/anti.html) The Associated Press reports that the City Council of Oakland, CA passed a littering tax on Feb. 7, 2006. Food related businesses like convenience stores and fast food restaurants will be taxed annually at a rate between $230 to $3,815 depending on the size of the establishment. (Reported in theFeb. 9, 2006 WSJ and Feb. 8, 2006 AP online)

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