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What Should Santa Cruz do With the Bikes Police Find?

The city has 400-600 bikes a year....and used to donate them to needy kids but the program became political and hard to manage. What should it do now?

Every year Santa Cruz Police end up with 400-600 bicycles that have been stolen, lost or abandoned.

Tuesday, the city council will decide what to do with them.  The question has become a big political football, after two bike collectives had deals with the police to take away the bicycles, fix them up and get them into the hands of poor kids.

After complaints of favoritism by the shops and complaints from the police that the bikes weren't getting picked up and were clogging their storerooms, the city manager suspended the program in April.

In August the police department began selling the bikes on a national police website for auctioning found property, Property Room.com. The money raised there goes back to the city.

The city staff has asked the council to decide what it should do with the bikes Tuesday at its 2:30 p.m. meeting.

One possibility is returning to a system where local shops will rebuild the bikes and get them to youths who need them. Several youth groups told the council that would be a great return for them.

The negatives of that plan, however, include staff time tracking the bikes, making sure the bike rebuilder does what it says it will do, and storing the bikes until they are picked up. Money will be spent monitoring the program.

The second option is to continue using Property Room.com. The website picks up the bikes and in five months has auctioned 143 bikes for a return to the city of $3,000. The city council could vote to donate some $10,000-$15,000 a year from bike sales to nonprofits. 

However, the city staff says in a report, this doesn't help kids who need bikes or keep the program local. 

A third possibility would be a combination of the first two: adult bikes could be auctioned off while child and teen-sized ones could be distributed through the city's teen center.

The city staff recommends the third option to the council. What do you think? 

Dave Wade January 27, 2014 at 03:12 PM
Auction the bikes locally.

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