Throwing a mattress next to the highway or a bag of trash on a city sidewalk could soon cost $ 10,000.
A few San Jose officials want to crack down on illegal dumping by quadrupling the fines residents would face if caught. Currently, fines start at $ 2,500, but could start at $ 10,000 under the new proposal.
“We are frankly fed up with how much dumping there is in the city,” said Councilor Sergio Jimenez, who is proposing the new legislation together with the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Rolando Bonilla. “We need to step up a bit for people who do this.”
There are currently three tiers of illegal dumping fines in the city: $ 2,500 for the first offense, $ 5,000 for the second offense, and $ 10,000 for a third offense. Under ‘Bonilla and Jimenez’s suggestion, the city would eliminate the animal system and instead impose all illegal dumping fines of $ 10,000. The duo hope the quadrupling of the fines will give residents food for thought before piling up trash in places like parks and homeless camps.
“For me, the tiered system sends a very mixed message,” Bonilla told San José Spotlight. “A crime is monstrous enough. If you come to our neighborhoods and want to turn them into illegal landfills, you will be fined $ 10,000 every time. “
The city has stepped up its disease reduction efforts in recent years, including implementing a city-wide illegal dumping patrol team backed by the city’s 311 app and an illegal dumping hotline that serves residents and businesses Report piles of rubbish. With most of the city’s operations closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, illegal dumping has increased and there have been fewer staff to take care of it.
The city had an average of 543 monthly requests to clean up illegal landfills before the app launched in 2019, but it nearly tripled to 1,583 requests afterwards.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, city cleaning teams regularly swept 70 hotspots a day, city reports show, even though San Jose has identified more than 160 trouble spots in the city.
Since the pandemic began, only 25 of the city’s most common landfills – locations with 13 or more clustered illegal landfills – have been cleaned to save money and time. But residents are fed up with piling up trash and epidemics, especially as dumpsters have grown bolder during the pandemic and the number of illegal trash incidents in their neighborhood has increased.
Some local residents, including Jeff Levine, who lives in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood, said he personally saw housed residents dumping their trash in his neighborhood’s homeless camps for legal disposal. He said despite the city’s best efforts, he hadn’t seen the drop in illegal dumping as much as he’d like – even with high-tech proposals like cameras near landfills.
“It’s a lot easier to call and take away large items for free,” Levine said, referring to the city’s free large item pickup and the city’s 311 app. “Did that make a bump? I dont know.”
Levine said he hoped increasing the fines and providing a dashboard that allows residents to track illegal dumping hotspots in real time will reduce dumping. He said he and his neighborhood association had promoted the city for such a dashboard so residents can see what happened after an illegal dump incident was reported.
“I’m in favor of increasing the fines as long as they (the city) use it,” Levine said. “If they just get it out there and it never gets enforced, then it’s worse than useless.”
Jimenez said his proposal, along with better education about legal dumping resources and technology like surveillance cameras, would significantly reduce illegal dumping. He points to a similar proposal that last year fined illegal fireworks as an effective example. He will present the proposal to the city’s Rules and Open Government Committee next Wednesday.
If the committee approves the point, it will be heard by the entire city council at a later date.
“Some people will not care about the fine and they will do what they do,” Jimenez said. “But that cannot be the guideline to implement this. We hope this is part of the puzzle in getting people to do the right thing. “
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.