Thursday, April 3, 2008

When the homeless lose or abandon stuff, it gets frozen

Here’s an interesting article about abandoned possessions left by the homeless.

Berkeley not only tolerates its homeless people, it also takes good care of their stuff when they abandon it in shopping carts. The city of Berkeley stores abandoned shopping carts left by the homeless in a huge container for up the 90 days. The items in the container are refrigerated at a temperature of 0 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2003, Berkeley bought the 40-foot-long, 8-foot-wide refrigerated container for $8,200 because public works officials complained that the shopping carts, which were then stored at the city's outdoor corporation yard, were vermin-infested. The city needed a place to put the container, so it signed a five-year, $61,500 lease with Caltrans for land under the University Avenue overpass at Interstate 80.

Why does the city store the abandoned shopping carts? Deputy City Attorney Matthew Orebic asserted that the city is abiding state law, which requires storage of lost goods. He concedes, however, that it is unclear whether the law applies to unattended shopping carts because they may not be lost. Given the lack of clarity, the city opted to do what was safe and fair, that is, to make sure that it are not violating any laws and to be fair to homeless persons.

No comments: