Tongson: Illegal Dumping in East Contra Costa Intensifying

By Sean Tongson

9
Photo by Sean Tongson

The subject of illegal dumping is an ever-present issue which in spite of multiple press releases, physical signage, warnings, and pleas to the public, never seems to fully disappear for good.

A steady problem in East County for years, much of the rural, wide-open space draws appeal as ideal locations for dumping unused furniture, mattresses, and household garbage. In fact, if statistics and eyewitness accounts are to be believed, the illegal dumping problem only seems to be intensifying in East Contra Costa County.

“I could be out walking on Empire Mine Road or at Black Diamond and see random, large appliances appear to have been dumped for no reason,” said Brentwood resident Roberto Flores. “Why make an area look trashy? It shows no respect for where you live or for the environment at all.”

The problem with illegal dumping of large household items and garbage is an ongoing issue in East Contra Costa County, which is seemingly getting progressively worse.

According to Oakley City Manager Assistant Nancy Marquez, the increasing amount of household furniture and garbage being unceremoniously dumped and abandoned on roadsides, rural areas, and open spaces may be attributed to the increase in cost of disposing trash and junk at landfills.

“It is easier for people to simply dump any trash and junk along roadways than to properly dispose of at a landfill,” said Marquez. “Especially on rural roads, where it is easy to dump items and drive away quickly.”

Photo by Sean Tongson

Antioch Code Enforcement Manager Curt Michael theorizes that several contributing factors to illegal dumping may include a lack of means to transport unwanted items to the dump, the cost of legally disposing unwanted items, or just plain laziness.

“Debris piles can contain a variety of environmental and safety hazards,” said Michael. “Therefore, city crews take appropriate precautions when abating the debris. Unfortunately, debris from illegal dumping can end up in the creeks that flow to the river, in addition to creating blight and reducing quality of life.”

According to Michael, in June 2018, approximately 866 cubic yards of debris was removed from city property in Antioch, which is equivalent to over 173 trailer loads of debris. Additionally, the City of Antioch has dedicated two full-time general laborers to removing illegally dumped debris from city property.

“I think it is a prevalent problem,” said Mark Goodwin, Chief of Staff for the Office of Supervisor Diane Burgis. “Comparing this year to last year, and certainly over the last few years, we have seen an increase in illegal dumping.”

While local police departments are involved in efforts to curtail and penalize those caught illegally dumping, the majority of the tracking, cleanup, and removal of debris is done by the cities’ abatement teams or public work crews, which are part of the cities’ Code Enforcement Divisions. The cities of Concord, Pittsburg, and Richmond all have dedicated officers specializing in illegal dumping.

“Junk haulers must have an Antioch Business License to operate in the city,” added Michael. “Debris piles are checked to see if any personal information can be obtained and if so, a Notice of Violation for illegal dumping will be issued.”

If individuals are caught in the act of dumping illegally, enforcement is primarily carried out by the local police departments, which includes a possible $1,000 fine.

A couple of notable incidents occurred in July when a motorist was spotted by surveillance cameras illegally dumping a large cardboard box at Laurel Ballfields Park in Oakley. Another individual was spotted illegally dumping garbage and other hazardous materials in a Discovery Bay neighborhood, some of which made their way into drainage systems–county Hazmat was called. Both suspects were eventually located and ordered to pay full restitution and/or aid with the cleanup.

However, despite its increasing prevalence, there are currently no new measures aimed at targeting illegal dumping at this time, due to a lack of resources. Despite this, citizens are still encouraged to report any illegal dumping activities to local authorities.

“The agencies in East Contra Costa County have few resources to enforce and monitor such illicit activities,” added Marquez. “The City of Oakley along with other municipalities in East Contra Costa County try to educate and inform the public on the subject of illegal dumping by all means possible.”

Additionally, city-sponsored cleanup events periodically occur where dumpsters are placed on streets at pre-determined locations in neighborhoods, at no charge to residents, for the purpose of assisting residents with legally disposing of unwanted items.

The City of Brentwood, for example, will host three free neighborhood cleanup events next month on Saturdays September 8, 15, and 22.

“Republic Services customers can request pick-up of bulky items such as mattresses, furniture, construction debris, landscape debris, e-waste, and large appliances,” added Michael. “Republic Services is able to assist residents with safe household hazardous waste disposal and also offers convenient at-home disposal solutions with their medical sharps and needle mail back kit.”

More information on the City of Antioch’s policy in regards to illegal dumping can be found at the following link: http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/CommDev/Code-Enforcement/illegal-dumping.htm.

For more information on Brentwood’s Neighborhood Cleanup Events in September, please visit https://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/pw/recycling/events.asp.

Lastly, more detailed information on illegal dumping including resources on how to legally get rid of unwanted items (including hazardous materials) in Contra Costa County can be found at http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/depart/cd/recycle/illegal-dumping.htm.

 


Sean Tongson, writer, is a resident of East Contra Costa County, a proud husband and father, and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, road tripping, and traveling.

An avid bay area sports fan, Sean’s favorite teams include the 49ers, Giants, Sharks, and Warriors.


SHARE

9 COMMENTS

  1. It always looks like a third world country in parts of Antioch. Mr Michael needs more staff council members. Not just now but for years

  2. Does anyone ever get caught? Doesn’t seem like it. Just a bunch of signs that say it’s illegal and what the fine is ….while a huge pile of stuff sits next to them and scattered all up n down the road. Alot of the stuff being dumped looks like someone remodeled a house and dumped everything they gutted out of it. The large item pick up the garbage company does isn’t enough. We should have several bulk pick ups done through out the year and be able to place as much as needed at the curb without having to call in and schedule it. 2x a year just Isn’t enough. But at the same time some people are pigs and just don’t care.

  3. It’s just like most other issues… you can have all the laws you want, restrict all the things you want, legislate the h*ll out of everything you want, post all the flyers and signs you want, but it will not do any good. The most constant variable factor in this is that it’s the PEOPLE who were raised with no respect for themselves, don’t care about anything other than themselves, their alcohol, state and county financial support, their dope etc… who do these things. Until you can find a way to DO SOMETHING to these people they will continue to dump sh*t where they want, drive like idiots, speed, throw trash out of their car windows, steal alcohol from the mini marts and grocery stores, spin doughnuts in the intersections and on Hwy 4 etc… If for some reason, one of these bastards were to be caught, they would maybe get a ticket and then the case will get dismissed because it’s such a petty issue to the courts. If the courts tried to prosecute them, there will be protests out the ying yang for some kind of civil rights issue and how the government is singling out the oppressed people of the county by trying to do something about the problem. Basically, nothing can be done as long as there are people like this around and they will always be. I agree with MsKris, most people in these areas are pigs and living off the county and state. I bet you don’t have this problem in Alamo or Danville?

  4. Brentwood resident Roberto Flores assumes that people who dump in this area live in this area. That may not be the case. I’ve witnessed a number of time where people drove a truck full of discarded furniture and dumped all of it in a park. I took down the license number and truck description and reported it to the police. Turns out a number of those people were from outside this Contra Costa County.

  5. So why not do a free dump day every couple months ,wouldn’t it be cheaper then paying the city to.pick it up !

  6. Trash folks just doing what comes natural after they’ve destroyed one property and are in the process of moving into their next victim. They need to get rid of their old unwanted crap somehow so they can make room for more new useless garabage.

    Also losers hired to “clean up” a property will dump wherever.

    It’s the trash loser person mindset you see. Never let the thought of following the rules and trying to do things the right way cloud ones instinct. Because if you do you might not pass your highly evolved skills to your offspring….

Comments are closed.