San Jose

Beautify SJ Seeks More Resources to Keep Up With Illegal Dumping

San Jose is in the midst of trying to control the ever-growing problem of illegal trash dumping.

But it's not just discarded furniture and everyday garbage; some of material is toxic and a public hazard.

On Tuesday, the City Council will get its annual update on its ambitious Beautify SJ program, and officials say they’re getting overwhelmed by complaints.

San Jose’s cleanup program has gone through different names and phases, and the Beautify SJ program has received plenty of praise. But some people worry about it keeping up with the growing pile of complaints.

A San Jose work crew was cleaning up a huge pile of trash illegally and brazenly dumped on Sinclair Drive in East San Jose. It's one of almost 15,000 cleanup sites that Beautify SJ will tackle this fiscal year.

"We do have resources of about six full-time employees, and it is very difficult to keep up," said Valerie Osmond, deputy director of Environmental Services. "We've seen an increase of over 100%."

There are a number of reasons for the spike. The MySanJose mobile app used to report blight to city staff has generated an unexpectedly large surge of complaints. And some residents who plan to address the City Council say any cleanup delays just make the illegal sites grow larger.

"I see everyday folks who aren't homeless people dumping trash where they might see homeless people camped," resident Jeff Levine said.

Beautify SJ will outline the growing demand in a report to the city council Tuesday. It's proposing to add three staff members, and additional program manager, $300,000 in grants and new trucks and equipment.

"If the public has any information that can positively identify an illegal dumper, such as a license plate, we can and do issue administrative citations and fines based on that," Osmond said.

Some of the 130 workers let go two years ago when the program was known as the Neighborhood Cleanup Program say they plan to tell the council Beautify SJ depends too much on volunteers.

To report illegal dumping in public spaces around San Jose such as sidewalks and streets, call 408-535-3500 or use the MySanJosé mobile app.

Anyone who sees illegal dumping in progress can call the San Jose police nonemergency line at 408-277-8900. Photos, videos or license plate evidence of someone illegally dumping on public property can be sent via email to

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