completely fair game. also, a good example of good practices for putting stuff on the street (stuff was clearly arranged by a human and there's a "free" sign).

That piece of furniture on the side of the road, that blackberry push right by the sidewalk, that orange tree dropping fruit onto the sidewalk. What is fair game and what isn't?

Completely fair:

clearly arranged by a human and box labeled "free"

  • Anything in one of Oakland's many trash piles
  • Berry patches growing on city or state property or right next to the sidewalk
  • Anything in a "free" box.
  • Things on the side of the road arranged in some way to indicate that this is a pile that a human has put thought into arranging for other people to take.
  • Fruit trees:
    • fruit accumulated on the ground on the part of the lawn between the sidewalk and the street
    • on branches hanging over into the sidewalk and beyond


  • Fruit Trees:
    • accumulated on the ground on the part of the lawn adjacent to the house. even more ambiguous if there's a fence. see if you can ask for permission by knocking on the door and introducing yourself, limit yourself to a small number of fruit (don't be greedy), and for god's sake - daylight hours only (you don't want to give people a heart attack).
    • low-hanging branches on the part of the lawn that's adjacent to the house when there's no fence. in this case, let your conscience be your guide.
  • trash/recycling cans put out on the sidewalk for pickup. Although some people think it's rude to go through trash cans (especially early in the morning/late at night) other people use these cans as a livelihood or at least a source of supplimentary income.

Better to leave it alone:

  • pets (cute, but somebody will miss them!)
    • but what about an obviously lost or abandoned pet? (obvious = loves people, no collar (if there's a collar it's more likely to be lost than abandoned), recently appeared in the neighborhood and has been there for at least a few days straight).
  • wild animals
  • mattresses
  • bikes on someone's porch/lawn
  • things on people's lawns and driveways
  • things that are sticking out the back of trucks or cars
  • dot matrix printers - a dime a dozen.