Faced with large discarded items that don’t make it to the dump, but instead create environmental damage and neighborhood eyesores, Santa Clara County is getting ready to make illegal dumping a priority.
Officials are faced with a backlog of more than 2,000 complaints of illegal dumping of anything from furniture to appliances and chemical containers to big toys. Residents are angry about the lack of enforcement and the slow clean-up.
“We have … and trash in the creeks, so we have waterways and wells that are being poisoned,” said homeowner Jamaine Rietman. ”So, eventually, the well water will be no good."
On Friday, county supervisor Dave Cortese said he sympathizes with residents’ flight, and stressed that it's time to revamp laws because the current ones aren't working.
He said he has been meeting with county experts to triple fines, and streamline the citation process so more agencies will be involved in enforcement. Another big change Cortese is pushing for is a 48-hour clean-up response to illegal dumping – similar to graffiti complaints.
“We'd like to see people caught, to see them cited, and then we'd like to discourage the activity by fining them and by making it painful to do this,” Cortese said.
For their part, dumping victims are supportive, but skeptical.
“It's really tough,” Rietman said. “There's blind spots, there's no streetlights here, they'll sneak in and catch you when you're least expecting it."