City of Berkeley to fine students who leave trash, furniture on sidewalks while moving out

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Rachel Feder/File

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City officials announced April 30 in a press release that students who leave trash and furniture out on public sidewalks are susceptible to fees “up to $1000 a day.”

Campus groups and city officials have collaborated to streamline the end-of-semester move-out process, according to Erin Steffen, assistant to the city manager. The Berkeley Student Cooperative, or BSC, the Panhellenic Council, or PHC — along with the Interfraternity Council, or IFC — and the city will provide resources for students looking to properly dispose of old furniture and belongings.

“Moving out responsibly and sustainably is just part of what it means for students to be good neighbors,” ASUC External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson said in a text message. “It’s been sounding like the city will be ramping up enforcement this year — I hope students take advantage of the resources available to them to plan proactively for their move-out and avoid getting fined.”

Steffen noted that these fees are not new — illegal dumping citations have been enforced by the city “for many years.” While property owners will be charged directly for illegal dumping by city enforcers, Steffen said in an email that there are no laws that prevent landlords from charging the costs to their tenants.

ASUC Senator Connor Hughes said in an email that he has heard from students who fear that property owners will not provide the adequate resources for them to throw out their waste properly. Hughes added that he has communicated with property owners to provide their tenants with “suitable garbage, recycling and compost bins.”

“As students move out, landlords and tenants should take advantage of the many City and university resources available to responsibly dispose their belongings,” said Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Burke in an email. “The City’s Code Enforcement team will be out levying fines and enforcing for illegal dumping during Cal Move Out.”

According to BSC President Zach Gamlieli, BSC will hold an event called “Cooperative Re-use” in the southwest parking lot of the Clark Kerr Campus where students can drop off and pick up gently used furniture and items. Cooperative Re-use is scheduled for the last two weekends of May and the first weekend of June.

Gamlieli added that for those who cannot transport their belongings, BSC will provide a free pickup service for furniture and reusable items by appointment.

Ella Griffith, PHC vice president of sustainability, listed several initiatives that the PHC and IFC have initiated to centralize student move-out in the campus Greek community, including organized pickups for the Greek chapters and extra dumpsters to be placed around Greek Row.

“I think from the city’s perspective, fining illegal drop-offs is similar to any litter fine,” Hughes said in an email. “It’s supposed to serve as a disincentive for students just dumping their trash in the street.”

Francesca Munsayac is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fcfm_dc.