Oakland’s streets are becoming an increasingly popular place for illegal dumping. With the expanse of industrial properties surrounding the city, people are opting to dump their old mattress on the sidewalk instead of spending the $20 to dispose of it at a proper disposal center.
Councilman Larry Reid, for one, is fed up with all of the illegal dumping he’s seen in his East Oakland district.
Reid often drives down the streets in his district scanning the sidewalk for abandoned items. On any given day he’s come across everything from old tires to abandoned cars.
On an especially weird day last month, he came across a street littered with old couches, carpet foam, a smashed computer, several uprooted marijuana plants, and a dead Chihuahua wrapped in a plastic bag. Yes, a dead Chihuahua.
Reid told the Oakland Tribune:
“I drive through here, and I get so depressed. It drives me crazy. This is what people have to come home to.”
When people dump old junk on the street and sidewalks because it’s convenient or they don’t want to pay landfill fees, the city has to pick up the tab. And it’s an expensive tab. Last year Oakland and other East Bay cities spent $3.2 million using 29 full-time workers to clean up more than 1,600 tons of illegally dumped trash.
Dumpers are getting tricky, too, with trash being dumped on BART property and railroads. In total, illegal dumping costs California taxpayers about $200 million per year, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
The city has tried several now-defunct programs involving police, surveillance cameras, and city workers, but none of them were very successful in finding people to penalize for the dumping.
A major culprit of the problem are independent haulers who put ads up on Craigslist to haul away your junk for cheap. They maximize their profits by not paying landfill fees and illegally dumping your junk on the streets.
Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said she’s currently working with Alameda County’s Stop Waste.Org on a program to license independent haulers. She believes the system would help customers know if the haulers are legitimate and make it easier to prosecute violators.