America the Messy Yard Police State

Cold hearted Tempe government nannies f*ck over people who need boxes.

Cold hearted Tempe government nannies f*ck over people who need boxes. I guess this is another case of the messy yard cops screwing citizens.


Lid closes on Tempe store’s box giveaways
Garin Groff, Tribune

It wasn’t even noon on a recent weekday morning, and Jeanna Routt was filling her van with one of the commodities that a couple of generations of Tempeans have come to associate with Top’s Liquors.

Surprisingly, at least to those who aren’t familiar with Top’s, Routt wasn’t there for booze. She was after boxes.

The store has been leaving empty liquor and beer boxes outside for Arizona State University students and others on the move in this college town for decades — a convenient way to recycle the boxes. But that tradition appears to be nearing an end.

In the city’s eyes, the boxes are garbage or illegal storage, so Tempe officials told Top’s to stop.

That’s prompted hundreds of customers — and those who prefer free boxes to booze — to sign a petition in protest of the crackdown.

Routt lucked out by snagging some boxes before employees could cut them up, which they’ve been doing since the city told the store to stop putting its boxes outside.

Routt lives near the store and had bought alcohol there before, but friends insisted she go there when she told them she was moving.

“Everybody said ‘if you need boxes, go to Top’s,’ ” Routt said.

People in the process of moving have gone to Top’s to avoid the expense of buying cardboard boxes that they’ll use only briefly. They’re a precious commodity; most businesses cut them up as they unload merchandise to save space.

The city told Top’s to stop putting out boxes after officials looked into a Tempe resident’s complaint about the store at 403 W. University Drive, said Jeff Tamulevich, a code compliance supervisor.

“They basically just threw their boxes in front of their business,” Tamulevich said.

Since Top’s ended the tradition, it’s been harder for customers to get their hands on the boxes before employees cut them up.

Top’s won’t face any fines because the store is now following the city’s ordinances, Tamulevich said.

Owner Greg Eccles said he didn’t want to speak about the issue until he’s resolved another code issue. The city also cited Top’s for installing a rolling security shield over the front door without first getting permission.

The shield appears to fit within city regulations, though a safety check is pending. If that isn’t an issue, the city will allow the store to keep the shield without any fines.

The liquor store can keep giving away boxes without facing fines, Tamulevich said, as long as they stay inside.

“We would love for them to donate these boxes to whoever it may be, but they should do it in a way that would conform with the zoning and development code,” Tamulevich said.

February 28, 2007
Tempe’s crackdown on box giveaway unnecessary
Tribune Editorial

Aside from the possible image problem of having underage Arizona State University students lug around what appear to be boxes upon boxes of Johnnie Walker Red or Jim Beam, Top’s Liquors’ tradition of leaving its empty cardboard boxes outside for others to reuse has been a win-win situation for Tempe for decades.

Anyone who’s moved in the last 10 years knows it’s no longer a snap to get free used boxes, as the existence of a business called goes to show. To save space, most stores slice the boxes up as soon as they’re unloaded, Garin Groff reported in Monday’s Tribune.

Top’s Liquors provided a convenient alternative to buying new cardboard boxes for historically mobile ASU students, and anyone else interested in partaking of this simpler form of recycling.

That is, until a single resident complained about the practice to the city. Code compliance supervisor Jeff Tamulevich told Groff, “They basically just threw their boxes in front of their business,” as if there’s any neat and tidy way to store them, either inside or out. The city’s investigation into this nonissue created a second one, as the inspector noted that the business had the gall to put a rolling security shield over their front door without obtaining a municipal blessing.

It appears the security door meets the city’s safety requirements, and the store will not face any other fines, since they did stop leaving cartons outside after being boxed in by the city. As Tulemevich noted, Tempe has no problem with the Top’s box giveaways as long as the containers aren’t piled up outside, but this distinction has forced them to become just another place that slices their boxes up before anyone has much of a chance to snag them.

It’s shameful for Tempe to crush a harmless business practice which provided a public service, which is supposed to be the city’s business.

Cities should have and enforce ordinances against anyone leaving garbage and debris to fester and become a roost for insects or rodents, but there’s no indication Top’s ever let that happen in front of this business.

So it would have behooved Tempe officials to work with the store to come up with a solution to any aesthetic issues while making it as easy as possible for the merchants to give these boxes away, once they’re done with them. Government employees have enough image problems without getting in the way of others who also want to provide a public service.


America the Messy Yard Police State