HESPERIA - The Council kicked off the political new year by discussing several agenda items during a special meeting Tuesday night.

During the meeting, which lasted less than 90 minutes, the Council conducted a first ordinance reading that will eventually establish design standards for residential, commercial, industrial and public-use donation bins, something Mayor Pro Tem Russ Blewett has called problematic.

"People are using these (clothing) donation boxes as dump sites," Blewett said. "We have people leaving furniture and other household supplies at these boxes and at the back of many of our thrift stores."

The ordinance comes after the city discovered it had overstepped its bounds by removing several bins that had been placed in parking lots and on vacant land adjacent to the city's right-of-way.

Several individuals representing one of three organizations that placed bins in the city cited several court cases alleging that donation bins enjoy First Amendment rights as "silent solicitors" of charitable contributions, staff reported.

"The removal of the bins happened a few years back, but we decided that we needed to quickly rectify the problem," Mayor Paul Russ told the Daily Press. "The bins were removed because they were a nuisance and they just looked dumpy. We can't outlaw and remove them, but we needed an ordinance."

In anticipation of the ordinance, Texas-based American Textile Recycling Services will place 20 donation bins in a fundraising effort for the nonprofit Giving Children Hope, according to Molera Alvarez, a government and public affairs firm.

Charities are paid fair market value for every pound of clothing received, according to Molera Alvarez, with ATRS providing over $6 million to worthy charities nationwide since they were founded.

Residents told the Daily Press they agree with the donation bin ordinance and believe property owners should monitor activity surrounding these bins.

"I've seen people trying to stuff TVs and small appliances in those bins," said Leah Martinelli, of Hesperia. "I've also seen stacks of mattresses piled next to them."

Based in Buena Park, Giving Children Hope is a community-driven, faith-based nonprofit that equips frontline partners with resources to serve vulnerable children and families locally and around the globe.

The Council also approved the formation of an ad hoc committee as the city prepares an independent water, sewer and recycled water rate study and connection fee study, with an amount not to exceed $103,825.

Councilmen Bill Holland and Larry Bird will be a part of the ad hoc group, along with city staff and a consultant as they examine the current state of water and the implementation of the Hesperia subregional water reclamation plant that is slated to open near the corner of Mojave Street and Tamarisk Avenue this year.

Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.