Oakland’s new strategy to catch illegal dumpers: install cameras

Oakland leaders announced on Friday the installation of 10 new surveillance cameras across the city to deter and catch illegal dumpers — an effort to deter people from leaving mountains of debris and burns in the streets.

The city has long struggled with illegal dumping. Last fiscal year, public works workers picked up 7,470 tonnes, or nearly 15 million pounds, according to the city.

Last year, Oakland responded to more than 30,000 service requests. Oakland officials said lax enforcement in the past encouraged people to leave piles of trash on the streets.

“Our community has been clear,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “The mountains of waste from illegal landfills are completely unacceptable. Everyone deserves to live in a clean and beautiful city.

Schaaf was joined by council members and a community member outside a park on 21st Avenue and Solano Way – a known ‘hotspot’ for illegal dumping – where one of the cameras was installed.

In January, the city council approved the installation of 10 cameras – at a cost of $8,000 a pop – to combat the problem. If the program is successful, the city will purchase additional cameras.

“We all know that every Oaklander, whether you’re a resident or a business owner, deserves clean, healthy neighborhoods and that’s why we’re here today,” said Board Chairman Nikki Fortunato Bas, who represents the area around the park hotspot. .

Schaaf said the locations of the other nine cameras would not be disclosed. Those who leave piles of trash will be fined up to $1,000 per dumping incident per day, and Schaaf said she wants to work with community members to increase the fine.

The city’s environmental officers – a group of six civilian officers – will review the footage. Since the group launched in 2020, the city has issued 1,399 citations for illegal dumping.

Other cities have also struggled with the problem. In San Francisco, Recology and the city’s Department of Public Works responded to more than 82,000 orders for illegal dumping service in the city from October 2017 to September 2018. Earlier this month, San Francisco leaders announced that they were increasing the number of days that crews clear neighborhood trash from two to four.

Schaaf and others said 10 cameras weren’t enough, but were a start.

Councilman Noel Gallo, who organizes weekly neighborhood cleanups, said some family members are now calling Oakland “garbage land” and urged the public to keep the city clean.

“How can we make Oakland an attractive city to live in?” he said.

Sarah Ravani is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @SarRavani

Comments are closed.