Council meeting to address scavengers

Newport Beach police chief wants rummaging residents' trash cans upgraded from an infraction to a misdemeanor.

January 20, 2011|By Mike Reicher,

Police officials are looking to crack down on scavengers who rifle through Newport Beach residents' garbage, according a report prepared for Tuesday's City Council meeting.

That and other issues, ranging from fishing regulations to consolidating city departments, will all be voted on by the council.

Residents complain that scavengers strew trash around homes, trespass, rummage for personal information and steal property from places like garages near garbage cans, according to Police Chief Jay Johnson.

They commit "crimes of opportunity that may be too tempting for the scavengers to resist," he wrote in an e-mail to West Newport residents and journalists last week.


One of the crimes mentioned in the city report is also "stealing from the city" because Newport would otherwise make money by recycling the cans, bottles and other materials.

As a deterrent, Johnson said he wants to upgrade the crime of rummaging from an infraction to a misdemeanor. This would allow police officers to arrest suspects. As the city ordinance is written now, police can only issue citations and fines.

Also, police describe an industry of recycling opportunists who organize groups of people to rummage though Newport trash cans, drive them to the city and then collect a percentage of proceeds. Johnson would like the council to declare it a crime to "aid and abet" scavengers.

Also on the Jan. 25 agenda:

The Harbor Commission has apparently backed off its plans to prohibit fishing at most of the city's public docks. It has formed a committee to reexamine the proposed ban, according to a staff report on docking time limits.

At a minimum, the harbor commission recommends banning fishing on the 19th Street dock on the Balboa Peninsula and the city's new Rhine Wharf in Cannery Village.

According to the report, the city negotiated a fishing ban to secure neighboring residents' support when reconfiguring the 19th Street dock last year. Rhine Wharf is off-limits to fishing, the city staff report says, because of a California Coastal Commission stipulation.

Harbor commissioners in October said that the proposed fishing ban on six of the 11 public docks was intended to protect them from fishermen who stomp on mussels, cast their lines in the way of boat traffic and take up space where boaters could be docking.

Fishermen contested the assertions of the commissioners, many of whom are boaters.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles