Sanitary district looking to get more locking trash cans

COSTA MESA — Trash containers with built-in locks were so popular that residents snapped up the first 120 available in two days, city officials said.

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District distributed the bins to residents earlier this month. Now, because of the demand, the district's board of directors will weigh a request for $10,000 to supply residents with more of the scavenger-proof bins.

After the initial 120 locking bins were made available to residents July 18, the district received 128 applicants requesting a locking container in two days, according to a news release from the district.

The $10,000 would pay for an additional 120 containers, which the city is limiting to one per household, according to the sanitary district.

"To have these available is a great idea," said Jeff R. Mathews, chairman of the Homeless Task Force and a parks commissioner.

"To have these near Lions Park, I think the residents near that area would appreciate the option," he added, referring to the park at 570 W. 18th Street, which is known for attracting the homeless. "If I lived across the street from the park, yeah, I'd want one."

Residents can lock the bins with keys issued to them by the district. The weight of the trash pops the lid open when an automated arm lifts the bin over the garbage truck.

Nearby Newport Beach has criminalized scavenging; five people have been arrested for it since the law was enacted against the practice in January.

Both cities' residents have cited concerns about identity theft as a factor in urging that action be taken.

"Scavenging in this general area has been an issue," said Jim Fitzpatrick, the vice secretary of the sanitary district, adding that Costa Mesa hasn't seen any area saturated with requests for locking trash cans.

Costa Mesa's Eastside, southwest and Westside and South Coast Plaza areas have seen the most applicants for locking bins, although other areas that have requested locking trash cans include Mesa Verde and the area around the Orange County Fairgrounds, according to A.J. Cully, a management analyst in the sanitary district in charge of receiving the requests.

The district's board is set to consider the request for $10,000 in extra funds at its next meeting July 28.

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