Monterey Park : Taking Recyclables Illegal

Sift through someone's recycling bin and pay a fine or go to jail.

That's the punishment for scavenging aluminum cans, newspapers and glass bottles under a law passed by the City Council on Monday night that makes it illegal to take recyclable materials from bins.

The law--similar to a bill making its way through the state Legislature--imposes a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail for anyone found guilty of stealing from curbside recycling bins. City officials said scavenging deprives cities of revenue from recyclable materials.

Councilman Fred Balderrama, who voted against the law, said scavenging should not be punished because "for some people, this may be their only income."

The council also approved a $1.21-a-month recycling fee for residents, and raised waste collection fees.

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