October 2, 2014
Mason County Journal
By Gordon Weeks
Dumpster diving is still legal in Shelton.
That fact disappoints the Shelton Mason County Chamber of Commerce, which is urging the Shelton City Commission to pass an ordinance to outlaw the practice and give police another “tool” to help make downtown streets safer.
In a Sept. 17 letter to Shelton Mayor Gary Cronce, chamber Executive Director Heidi McCutcheon pointed out that the organization a year ago asked for “a specific and simple request: adopt an ordinance to address the problem of dumpster diving.”
“Over the past year and a half, the (city’s) poverty task force spent countless hours collecting data and formulating a thorough report,” the letter states. “That report also included recommendations. Those recommendations included adopting a dumpster diving ordinance, and specified that it was an action item that could be ‘easily and quickly implemented with little or no cost.’ It has been nearly nine months since the Task Force’s recommendations were issued. We are disappointed that there has been no action taken on this issue.”
Representatives from the chamber took their case to the commission’s meeting on Monday.
“The business community is frustrated because people are rifling through their garbage,” McCutcheon told the commissioners.
Adopting such an ordinance would give Shelton Police officers “one more tool to make the city walkable and safe,” said Julie Nichols, chairwoman of the chamber’s government affairs committee.
Mayor Gary Cronce expressed surprise that the proposed ordinance was still an issue.
“I thought we’d already approved this,” he said.
“I don’t think we ever really talked about this,” said Commissioner Mike Olsen. For Shelton Police officers, such an ordinance “will be way down on their priority list and you’ll be fining people who have nothing,” he said.
“I don’t know what it will accomplish,” Olsen added. “I know it’s a nuisance.”
McCutcheon said the chamber doesn’t want the ordinance enacted to fine violators, but as another tool for police officers to use “to keep people on the up and up.”
McCutcheon said Shelton Police officers have told her that when they encounter dumpster divers, the scavengers say they know the practice is not illegal.
The commission “needs to step up to the plate to respond … We need to answer the question,” Cronce said. The commission should seek a recommendation from its police department, he said.
Reproduced with permission of the Mason County Journal.
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
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