Calling the use of illegal clothing bins for profit “a disgusting practice,” Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said Friday he is introducing legislation in Albany that should put a halt to the operation.
At a press conference Friday outside the gates of the historic Lawrence Cemetery in Bayside, Braunstein pointed to a large pink metal bin that purports to collect clothes for the poor placed illegally on city property.
“These are popping up all over the city and most are for-profit,” he said. “They attract litter and graffiti, and to place one next to a historic cemetery, which is a sacred place, is appalling.”
Such bins are not allowed on city sidewalks and when found the owners are given 30 days to remove them or the city will recycle them.
But as Braunstein pointed out, the bin owners are waiting to day 29 and then moving them to another illegal location. The city then has to start the 30-day waiting period all over again.
Braunstein’s legislation would ban the bins that are not operated by nonprofit organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service. The bill would also allow for immediate removal of ones on public property and would impose fines from $250 to $500 to the owners.
He vowed to introduce the bill when the Assembly reconvenes and expects to find a sponsor in the state Senate since “I have broad support” on the issue.
Coming out to show they are behind Braunstein’s efforts were members of the NYC BID Association and civic leaders. Michael Lambert, of Brooklyn, co-chairman of the citywide BID Association, said his group has been actively pursuing solutions to the ongoing problem.
“These bins are a scourge and lead to littering and dumping,” Lambert said.
Most in attendance were mystified as to why the location for the bin was selected, since it is in an isolated area, near a dead-end street and the Bayside Post Office Annex.
Judy Limpert, president of the Bayside Business Association, said placing a bin next to Lawrence Cemetery was egregious and sacrilegious, and should be removed.
Paul DiBenedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society, which cares for the cemetery, said the site has been a burial ground since 1832 “and there’s no place for the bins in our community.”
He believes that “counterfeit charity clothing bins prey on the goodwill and compassionate intentions of our most kindhearted citizens.”
Others pointed out that the bins sometimes overflow with clothing and make a mess when it rains. In the winter, some homeless people sleep in them.
Andy Rothman, a member of Community Board 11, said the bins “are just a scheme to make money.”
The pink bin at the cemetery is owned by Our Neighborhood Recycling, whose phone number is (855) 889-5900. Braunstein’s spokesman, David Fischer, said the business is a limited liability company, not a nonprofit, and that he is still waiting to hear back from the owner.
When the Chronicle called for information, the person who answered said a manager would call back. That did not happen.
The problem is not confined just to Bayside. Throughout Queens, community boards have received complaints about the illegal bins. The Rev. Edward McKay, minister of the Church of Christ in Springfield Gardens, called the bins “eyesores” and said a lot of them can be found along Linden Boulevard.
Community Board 7 in Flushing has heard complaints from the Department of Sanitation about illegal bins on Roosevelt Avenue. The owners “are playing movable chess” with them, Ignazio Terranova from DOS said last winter.
Residents are urged to call 311 if they see a clothing bin on a city street. Those placed without permission on private property, such as businesses, must also be reported by the owners.