Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oakland Gets Tough On Illegal Dumping

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL//ILLEGAL DUMPING | The sight of dirty mattresses propped up by sign poles and piles of unattended refuse is getting on the nerves of many Oaklanders. Residents routinely complain illegal dumping on Oakland streets is ubiquitous and the mess may sit on city sidewalks for days, even weeks. “It begins to feel like no one cares,” said Oakland Councilmember Lynette McElhaney of the psychological toll the presence of garbage takes on the city’s residents.

On Tuesday, McElhaney and other members of the council, along with City Attorney Barbara Parker began crafting a strategy for containing the problem of illegal dumping. A proposed ordinance approved by the Public Works Committee Tuesday afternoon would designate illegal dumping as a public nuisance punishable by a misdemeanor. It would also fine those who illegal dump mattresses $1,000 on the first offense. The matter will be heard by the full council on Oct.1.

“We’ve had enough,” said McElhaney, who is not a member of the public works committee, but addressed it during public comment. “The message to those is we will prosecute you. We will pursue you in court.” Haulers located in Oakland and in neighboring cities illegally dumping in the city could be subject to stiff fines and possible seizure of their truck, according to the ordinance. However, the city attorney’s office told the committee the process by which seizures occur rests with the state. Before a vehicle could be seized, the owner must have two previous criminal convictions.

Nevertheless, there was no shortage of ideas for stemming illegal dumping, which many labeled not only a public works problem, but also one of health and safety. Councilmember Noel Gallo, undoubtedly the city’s most active critic of illegal dumping, called for a comprehensive strategy for cleaning up the city involving nearly every sector of government, and notably, residents themselves. The first-term District 5 council members can be seen every Saturday morning painting over graffiti, picking up liter and hauling mattresses. “Don’t just talk about it, but get your hands dirty,” Gallo urged.

There are other extenuating circumstances for why residents or unscrupulous haulers leave their trash in Oakland. The recent recession resulted in many evictions and belly-up mortgages. The cost of disposing large personal items is also prohibitive for some low-income earners. Gallo noted Oakland and neighboring San Leandro have some of the highest rates for dumping in the region. He also proposed lowering standards and permitting fees for haulers and deputizing some city workers to issue tickets to those who illegally dump. Gallo even suggested splitting the proceeds from fines between the city and residents who alert authorities to dumping as it occurs.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan urged the city to search out ways to subsidize a pilot program for special days when residents can drop off old mattresses for free. She also proposed creating a countywide registry of private haulers to track and regulate the local industry. She, like others on the public works committee, hammered the notion the council and their constituents have reached a breaking point when it comes to sullying the city’s streets. “You cannot trash Oakland,” said Kaplan, “and we won’t let you get away with trashing Oakland.”


  1. I go under the 580 overpass that connects to the 13 freeway entrance several times a week. For many years, hardly a week goes by when there isn't a pile of something dumped under there and now it seems to also attract graffiti. Kudos to the city workers who constantly pick it up, but I can't begin to think what it has cost so far, let alone the blight and health issues.

  2. I work in West Oakland, near the Emeryville border, and I see the results of illegal dumping daily. How often will someone actually get caught in the act? While this should be discouraged, definitely, what is going to be done about cleaning up what's already here? And who is going to pay for that?

  3. By MW:

    While I do not live in Oakland, however when it comes to certain issues, and such as for instance illegal dumping, almost certainly virtually all of the employees of just about every government agency, and including the police department, considers it to be someone's else's job to do something about it. In other words, just about everybody, and in fact perhaps absolutely everybody, is passing the buck.

    For instance in the neighborhood in which I live, there has been a major, outrageous, and blatantly and flagrantly illegal environmental hazard for about fifteen years, and it is very easy to see and extremely obvious to anyone, and including members of law enforcement, who drives or walks down the street., However for years the worthless jokers and pathological liars in every imaginable agency have been coming up with nonstop excuses to do nothing about it.

    Perhaps the worthless jokers and extremely overpaid parasites in those various government agencies are waiting for someone to be killed by that extreme and flagrantly illegal hazard before they will consider alleviating the problem.

    In fact a number of years ago, and in regard to a totally different problem, I contacted a number of different government agencies, and every single local and state agency I contacted insisted it was a federal problem, and every single federal agency I contacted insisted it was a local problem.

    So when I described that big runaround I had been getting one day to a cousin of Jerry Brown one day when he was hosting a radio talk show, he told me that it was standard practice for government agencies to pass the buck. In other words generally most government agencies actually do little or nothing that actually benefits the public, although of course they are constantly asking for more tax money, and including so as to give pay raises to the useless and worthless jokers who compose a high percentage of their staffs.

  4. " “The message to those is we will prosecute you. We will pursue you in court.”

    No, they won't get serious. You can dump all you want.
    Even if a citizen sees you do it and reports you, they will not prosecute or cite you.
    Even if you take photos of the dumping they will not prosecute.
    If you call the police to report ongoing dumping, they will not come

    All this outrage by the city council members is just for show.
    They will do nothing.

    Most citizens won't even pick up a piece of paper as they walk down their street. They think they didn't drop it, so why pick it up.
    A tiny hand full of citizens actually ever pick up anything if its not beyond their property line. They'll let it sit in their own gutter for weeks or more.

    When it comes to power, that piece of paper or that can have more power than 98% of all Oakland citizens.
    The garbage always wins.

    All power to the garbage because citizens are weak.. so very weak. A 1 ounce piece of paper will sit there and laugh for weeks, even months at the weak citizens and their bogus outrage.
    Why call for the city to pick up that pile mattress and pile of garbage when you won't even pick up that piece of paper in your gutter, right in front of your or your neighbors house.

    You are WEAK. Garbage wins until or if the people find the strength or will to simply pick up a single piece of paper every few days.

    I guess that's too much to ask for a Oakland resident to do.
    So your neighborhood remains trashed because you won't do minimal task without some official city sponsored "clean up Day event"

    You are the cause of the mess, not some unthinking slob who dropped the can or wrapper. He is long gone, yet you allow it to sit their for months because "you didn't place it there".
    You are WEAK.

  5. By MW:

    Concerning the comment of 9:40PM.

    He is absolutely right.

    For instance:

    1- The "outrage" of virtually all politicians on most issues, including illegal dumping, is totally bogus and just for show, and including since most politicians, and especially those politicians who pretend to be "liberals," are actually nothing more than demagogues, charlatans, and phonies.

    and 2. As far as most members of the general public, we should be honest about it, and therefore change our national motto from "Government of, by, and for the people" to "I DON'T GIVE A DAMN," or even better yet to, "WE DON'T GIVE A DAMN."