On Wednesday, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) joined Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis to announce funding for a one-year pilot program to combat illegal dumping in the two counties.
In total, $750,000 in state funding has been secured to fund an enforcement officer in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties and will help establish best practices that will be used to enforce illegal dumping laws across the state.
“This state funding will provide our counties with the resources they need to combat this difficult problem,” said Bauer-Kahan. “The funding will provide both counties with the ability to have a full time police officer to enforce illegal dumping laws and make a huge impact in tackling this problem” she concluded.
Supervisor Burgis hopes this begins to address the quality of life and the environmental issues caused by illegal dumping.
“Illegal dumping impacts our quality of life and the environment, and I’m pleased to see county departments and law enforcement agencies working collaboratively on a set of comprehensive solutions. Our investment in per diem officers dedicated to illegal dumping enforcement, lighting, signage, and outreach materials should help us to turn back the tide on a problem that’s been growing annually.”
Illegal dumping investigations are typically time-consuming because, even if a suspect and license plate are captured on video, the suspect is commonly not the registered owner of the associated vehicle. These investigations require a significant amount of follow-up to develop sufficient evidence to file a criminal complaint or citation. This is challenging because although cities commonly receive investigative leads relating to illegal dumping from the public, many police agencies don’t have the resources to investigate these leads because they are focused on violent crimes and other more serious offenses.
Along in working illegal dumping cases, the full-time designation of the two sworn peace officers designated exclusively to investigate illegal dumping cases will allow for the building of expertise regarding investigations. Suspect interviews may also shed light on root causes and give more possible tools for local solutions.
“Illegal dumping is an environmental justice issue that disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities, and impacts the sense of well-being of all who live and work in neighborhoods where it is rampant,” says DA O’Malley. “Unscrupulous commercial haulers as well as individual violators illegally dispose of construction debris, mattresses, and trash of all sorts, wreaking havoc on the environment, ruining neighborhood streets and forcing taxpayers pick up the tab to clean up the tremendous amounts of garbage dumped on city streets, highways, parks, and in our waterways. Dumping “hot spots” become breeding grounds for vermin and impact public health.”
It is also anticipated that these funds will save taxpayer’s money in the long term. Some unscrupulous commercial haulers save money by illegally disposing construction debris, dirt, etc. while taxpayers pick up the tab, paying significant costs to clean up the tremendous amounts of garbage dumped on our city streets, highways, parks, and in our waterways.
“Illegal dumping puts entire communities at risk. It can harm the environment, endanger wildlife, threaten the health and safety of residents and adversely affect property values. The state funding will enhance efforts to combat illegal dumping in our communities,” says DA Becton.
This pilot allows the funding of two full-time officers, one in each county, working together in order to build networks, investigate, and stop illegal dumping.