Mayor Parker Asks City Council To Decriminalize Diving in Public Dumpsters

MAYOR PARKER ASKS CITY COUNCIL TO DECRIMINALIZE DIVING IN PUBLIC DUMPSTERS A Houston man’s arrest for Dumpster diving outside City Hall was news to Mayor Parker: “And I had to say, really?” says the mayor in teevee reporter Doug Miller’s story. “There’s an ordinance for that? Give me a break.” And Mayor Parker has since requested that city council revise the 1942 ordinance that criminalizes rummaging: Lawyers who want to see it repealed, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris, say that the ordinance “adversely impacts homeless persons and absorbs law enforcement time that could otherwise be spent preventing more significant criminal activity.” But, reports Morris, potential changes won’t mean Houstonians will be free to help themselves to whatever and wherever they’d like: “[S]pokeswoman Janice Evans said the proposed repeal will be amended . . . to ensure that it only addresses the situation which saw [the man] cited for picking through a public trash can. Rummaging through trash cans or recycling bins at homes and businesses still will not be allowed . . . .” [KHOU; Houston Chronicle] Photo of Dumpster: Flickr user nicksaltman

17 Comment

  • As someone who had to keep bums from rummaging through my trash and throwing it all over the street on a weekly basis, this makes me happy I moved away from Houston.

    Who do you think had to pick it up? Yeah. Keep up the good work, Houston.

  • The World may by your oyster, but Houston is my All You Can Eat Buffet!

  • Was it really a public dumpster? Someone posted a picture of the ticket (Occupy, maybe) and the ticket said he was ticketed at 800 Bagby, the Hobby Center. I can’t find a story that states the specific location. They all just say something like “near City Hall.”

  • Not a Houston resident (anymore) and certainly not one that leans politically to the right. But in detached reading, it seems to me that putting this off as a callous reaction just by the mayor’s quote is political itself is rather political. Decriminalizing what is often the very last resort of a desperate person is certainly NOT the same as declaring it the only or best option available. If the opposite were the case and things were at a stage where it was being suggested that dumpster diving now become criminalized, I imagine the same outcry would be taking place and by the same people. That’s using the homeless as political fodder. It’s not appreciated, especially coming from those who often claim to be the only ones looking out for the less fortunate. The right solution is to stop looking for ways to keep signs of desperation out of your lovely neighborhood and start providing more options – not fewer.

    I say this as someone who was a homeless person in Houston some decades ago. Arresting some I know for hitting bottom and still trying to survive is hardly helping them. The Mayor is right (at least in this case).

  • Glad to see you go miss, I’m sure the place you live has very strict laws that keeps bums from rummaging. Cause you know, the threat of law keeps that kind of stuff from happening ever..

  • @miss_msry – “Rummaging through trash cans or recycling bins at homes and businesses still will not be allowed.”

    Reading Is Fundamental!

  • For an interesting view on “scavenging” check out Lars Eighner’s “On Dumpster Diving”. It’s one of the more literate and thoughtful pieces written on homelessness by a homeless person. You can find it for free online.

  • As Americans, we are very wasteful. We throw out things that are perfectly good for someone else. That might include food (gross to us, but a meal for someone), clothes, electronics, and lots of items that can be recycled (cans, scrap metal/copper).
    Anyone pulling the stuff out of the trash is doing a service IMO. We have a few bums that are ‘regulars’ around our dumpsters. We know them, they know us. They don’t make a mess because they don’t want to be turned away from their dig.
    My biggest trash issue is people putting trash *IN* my dumpsters. If someone wants to take trash *OUT*, more power to them!

  • where is it stated the person rummaging was a bum? Maybe it was a private detective hired by Wayne Dolcefino (or maybe it was Wayne himself) trying to find the new politically hot story of which he will take advantage.

  • What’s the problem with recycling someone else’s trash?
    If the rummager makes a mess, they are guilty of littering, that’s already against the law. If they steal your identity from the trash then try them for identity theft.
    I have no dire need for to dig through trash, but if someone is throwing out something I can use then it would be stupid to let it go to the landfill.

  • Well, the bigger picture issue with allowing people rummage through trash is that the trash IS worth something, especially to the trash to power plants and trash to recycle sorting businesses. If ya’ll want someone to take better care of your trash (instead of just putting it in a landfill) then you have to leave the good bits in it. (Cans, glass, and the biomass)

  • Nothing wrong with a little dumpster diving, in fact I have found some really cool stuff in them, like antique cast iron skillets and high quality picture frames, even really nice bicycles. Best times to look are at the end of college semesters around the high-end apartment complexes and frat/sorority houses…generally it’s the spoiled rich kids who really have no idea (or don’t care about) what they are throwing away.

  • there is an entrepreneurial gentleman that comes around my neighborhood early in the morning every recycling day to remove all the cans from our recycling bins before the trucks come around.

  • I picked through a neighbors trash one day, I couldn’t help it though, there was a box of books just sitting there, I rummaged through the 50 or so paperbacks and found about 5 books that I wanted to read.

  • I don’t remember when I started, but as a kid and teenager I used to rummage through the post office trash cans for magazines. My payoff happened when I found two pristine copies of the 1979 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition- one for me and one for my best friend. Score!

  • I’ve found having good relationships with the dumpster divers can be beneficial. While, obviously, we have to be careful of those fishing for information (identity theft, etc.) – a lot of what we throw away is still very useful: I like to know that it is being used in the best way, even if it makes no financial sense for me to do so. At my business, we have several local characters each with their own wants and needs. One comes through and extracts every piece of large metal (using axes, pickaxes, tools, whatever it takes) – door handles, buckets, etc. cleans them up and recycles them. Another, makes his weekly run on different days, looking for every can in our recycling dumpster. The final one, comes through twice a week collecting pallets we stack up for him, so he can go sell them to a local used pallet company. The first two would be considered criminal acts under the law, and there’s no way in hell I’d report them. If they found someone diving for info, they’d drive them off – because they need to protect their interests and ours to keep access.

  • why dose it have to be a bum,anyone can look in the trash ,all i have ,is from the trash,one mans trash is another mans treasure,could people just stop and think for a moment do you watch aniques road show ,or amarican pickers ,some of the most popular shows on tv .and what are they watching hmm,some guy in the trash just found??????lots of money