City Attorney, Public Works Agency and City Administrator launch enforcement effort against individuals responsible for widespread neighborhood blight
OAKLAND, CA – With help from a growing number of concerned citizens, the City of Oakland is going after individuals who are responsible for one of the worst sources of civic blight in Oakland: illegal dumping.
The Illegal Dumping Enforcement Action initiative – a joint effort by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, the Public Works Agency and the City Administrator’s Office – uses photos, videos and other evidence from members of the public to track down illegal dumpers and make them pay for disrespecting Oakland’s residents, businesses and taxpayers.
Dumping old mattresses, furniture, construction debris, garbage and other items on sidewalks, in parks and under freeways is a major source of blight in neighborhoods across Oakland.
“Oaklanders have had enough of this disrespect of our beautiful city; we will not be a dumping ground,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said. “Illegal dumping is more than just unsightly. It also has a chilling effect on the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and creates an environment of blight and lawlessness that can encourage more serious crime and violence. Making Oakland a cleaner city will make our city safer.”
Parker also thanked members of the public for making enforcement actions possible by submitting evidence of violations, especially photos showing the license plate numbers of vehicles involved in dumping. The City Attorney’s Office is using license plate numbers to track down the owners of those vehicles. Many of the individuals cited by the City live outside of Oakland, meaning they drive to Oakland to dump their garbage here.
An increasing number of Oakland citizens, many using camera phones, are taking photos and videos of illegal dumping incidents and reporting violators to the Public Works Agency using the Agency’s on line service request page or the SeeClickFix mobile application for Oakland. SeeClickFix is an online and mobile tool that allows residents to report and track non-emergency problems such as graffiti, illegal dumping and potholes.
The Neighborhood Law Corps – the community law unit in the City Attorney’s Office – is reviewing evidence and developing cases. So far about a dozen people have been cited by the City Administrator’s Office, and more reports come in every day.
“These enforcement actions and fines will be far reaching as the word hits the street,” said Acting Director of Public Works Brooke A. Levin. “Our residents and businesses are fed up with dumping. Oakland Public Works is pleased to be in partnership with the City Attorney’s Office to address the critical need to take legal action against illegal dumping.“
The City is charging illegal dumpers up to $1,000 a day for every day the blight continues, plus other fees and costs. The average citation is in the range of $3,000 to $4,000. In a recent case, an individual was cited for $6,000 for two incidents of illegal dumping in East Oakland. A resident submitted photos of the incidents from a home security camera, and took a close up photo of the license plate, which was used to track down the owner.
The City Attorney will bring an ordinance to the City Council in September to (1) increase penalties for illegal dumping, (2) make illegal dumping a misdemeanor crime under City law (it is currently an infraction under the Oakland Municipal Code, but a crime under state law) and (3) allow some violators to perform community service by cleaning up illegal dumping instead of paying fines.
In recent years the City has focused on cleaning up illegal dumping, but has lacked resources to cite illegal dumpers. With the increase in online reporting of incidents, including photographic and video evidence submitted by the public, the City is now able to identify and pursue enforcement actions against individuals and companies responsible for illegal dumping in Oakland.