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Your Rags to Their Riches: Donated Clothes May Fund International Fugitive 

Wednesday, Jun 8 2011

Page 4 of 4

"The idea that Campus California disassociated itself from the Teachers Group is ludicrous," she says. "We got all the boxes out" of Piedmont and College avenues. "We got them removed from Rockridge, and a friend of mine is chair of the Piedmont Avenue area neighborhood group, and we got them removed there."

Oddly, though San Francisco is home to some of America's most muscular NIMBYs, there seems to have been no reaction to the recent incursion of boxes. Instead, the anti-Campus California vanguard is in Oakland.

Floystrup would like to put an end to the battle once and for all with city legislation imposing a fee for each box placed in the city.

Sako says that Campus California's business model does not allow for a significant fee, and that the group will pull out of any city that imposes one.

Thanks to lobbying help from Goodwill Industries, such a fee might not be far off.

Last year, the state Legislature passed a Goodwill Industries-backed measure allowing local jurisdictions to regulate used-clothing boxes. In Oakland, a representative with Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan's office said she is studying the possibility of legislation.

Latchford, the East Bay Goodwill executive, says his office has been informing officials in cities and towns where Goodwill operates of the new state law. (Again, oddly in NIMBY-mad San Francisco, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties has not been involved in any such efforts, a spokeswoman says.) "Once they have the cover of state legislation, local officials often feel more comfortable enacting ordinances and procedures," Latchford says.

Goodwill's Sacramento lobbyist, Otto DeLeon, says the group might seek tougher legislation next year. "Our next steps are trying to regroup and find out what our strategies would be," he says.

Back at Campus California's Richmond headquarters, Sako doesn't seem to feel there's much to fear. Last fall's legislation "became a very useful bill," he says, because it required boxes to have stickers declaring they belong to a nonprofit, which has served as a sort of advertisement attracting donors. As far as he can tell, the future portends nothing but growth.

"When I came here from Africa in 2006, our challenge was that this was a new thing, and the general public had to ask, 'What are these boxes?'" Sako says. "Now the boxes are accepted. And the people understand it. And they know there is no better way to deal with used textiles."

Perhaps it's time for the public to begin asking questions again.

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Matt Smith


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