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CONTRA COSTA, Calif. -- In an effort to curb litter on sidewalks and streets, Vice Mayor Jane Brunner of Oakland, Calif., is introducing legislation that would require certain kinds of businesses to pay an extra fee for being part of the problem.
According to Brunner's proposal, "It is difficult, if not impossible, to trace individual pieces of litter to individual businesses, but it is possible to trace the litter to business or industry types."
The businesses that will be targeted are liquor stores, fast-food eateries and gas station convenience stores.
"These businesses make most of their money selling soda, snacks and candy in disposable packaging," said Brunner in a press release. "These businesses create litter; therefore, we want them to step up to pick up the tab for cleaning up."
Brunner said the fee is based on the cost of cleaning up litter caused by the stores, and is not punitive.
The annual fee, which will be based on the size of the store and its gross receipts, will amount to about $230 for a small business and nearly $2,500 for large businesses.
It is estimated that it will raise about $240,000, which will be used for additional cleanup staff throughout the city. The focus would be on schools, with staff working 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays to collect trash.
Pamela Drake, president of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, had mixed feelings about the proposal.
"Our fast-food outlets are very responsible," Drake said. "But when people take it away from the store, it becomes a big problem."
According to Brunner, that's the reason why she wants to go beyond requiring businesses to clean up around their shop.
"Some have it in their permit as a requirement to clean around the block, others say they will do it but then stop in a few months," Brunner said.
Brunner will introduce the anti-litter legislation on July 12 before Oakland's Community and Economic Development Committee.