Editorial: Don’t set a precedent by dumping unwanted junk

Tempting as it is to haul that ratty and unwanted sofa, mattress or dresser out to the sidewalk and slap a “free” sign on it — or worse yet, abandon it on a vacant, out-of-the-way lot — don’t do it.

It’s tacky. It’s a code violation. And it sets an awful precedent — dump one mattress in the middle of a weedy lot and before you know it, there are half-a-dozen or so joining it, and we have a bona fide junk yard.

And chances are, you won’t get away with it anyway.

Take the city of San Luis Obispo as an example. During a recent 12-month period — June 15, 2010, to June 15, 2011 — the city responded to nearly 350 reports of items illegally dumped in public right-of-ways. In most cases, the city was able to find the guilty parties and either required them to remove the items, or had the items hauled away and sent them the bill.

That’s good.

Even better, the city also is looking at solutions to prevent illegal dumping in the first place.

Because the problem is especially prevalent during student move-out season, the city is looking into a program that works at UCSB. Every June, students donate their castoffs, which are then offered up at a giant yard sale. The proceeds are then distributed to charities in Isla Vista; one year, the sale netted $27,000. That’s an incredible way to raise money for good causes while helping the community keep urban blight at bay. We strongly urge the city and Cal Poly to join forces and sponsor a similar event here.

In the meantime, there are other ways to get rid of your unwanted junk.

Cleanup week begins Monday in the city of San Luis Obispo; garbage customers can leave, in addition to the regular garbage containers, up to 12 additional cans, boxes or bundles of garbage.

For an additional charge, garbage customers also can arrange pickup of mattresses, refrigerators, televisions and other bulky items. Arrangements must be made in advance; call 543-0875 for details.