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March 14, 2017 > Reporting of illegal dumping

Reporting of illegal dumping

By Supervisor Dave Cortese

It doesnÕt take much to create a dump.Ê First, someone drops off a beat-up sofa along the side of a road, at the end of a street or on a vacant lot. That invites someone else to leave a pile of garbage, a worn-out refrigerator, a broken table and construction waste. Before long, these illegal dumpers have created a mini-landfill.
Judging by phone calls to my office and the offices of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, these unsightly, and sometimes dangerous, blight deposits have been on the rise, causing enormous frustration for residents and the officials who represent them.
So, I was bewildered at the February meeting of the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, which I chair, to hear a report that incidents of illegal dumping in 2015 and 2016 amounted to 75 each year throughout the entire County.
I believe those numbers are way too low. But I also think the numbers are a reflection of how hard it is for the average resident to report illegal dumping in Santa Clara County. If we made it easier, I believe the numbers of reports would go up, and the sites could get cleaned up more quickly. HereÕs how it works now:
To report illegal dumping on a County Road or Expressway, you need to visitÊsccgov.org, fill out a service request forum or download a Mobile Citizen App on your smartphone so you can take a photo of the debris and send it to Roads and Airports Department. Unless it is after work hours or on weekends, then you call 408-299-2506 to reach County Roads and Airports.
Residents in the Santa Clara County unincorporated area can also file a complaint about excessive junk on private property by calling County of Santa Clara Code Enforcement 408-299-5770. Dumping-in-progress reports should go to the Santa Clara County Sheriff DepartmentÕs non-emergency line at 408-299-2311.
District 3 residents who live within the City of San Jose can report illegal dumping by calling the Customer Contact Center at 408-535-3500. Dumping-in-progress reports should go to the San Jose Police Department non-emergency line at 408-277-8900.
If you see anything dumped in or near a storm drain, it could affect the quality of water, so you would call the Clean Water Program at 408-299-2506, unless itÕs after business hours or on weekends, then itÕs the County Roads and Airports. The Santa Clara Valley Water District also has a pollution hotline to call at Pollution Hotline at 1-888-510-5151 for incidents in the SCVWD jurisdiction.Ê
There are more numbers, but you get the idea. Too many phone numbers! IÕm advocating for a single Illegal Dumping Hotline. One number to report any discovery of trash. Then County staff can route the report to the appropriate responder, and put the cleanup in motion.
The County administration is working on setting up a hotline and also a mobile phone app to help residents report illegal dumping. IÕm expecting it to happen in the next 60 days, so that we can get it working ASAP. I will keep you updated. It couldnÕt happen too soon for me.
Also on the topic of cleaning up our environment, the County has entered into agreements with Caltrans to address illegal dumping along state highways and interchanges in the County, at no cost to the County. Caltrans will hire the San Jose Conservation Corps to clean up litter and trash through 2018. Caltrans will also fund the Probation Department to work with the Center for Employment Opportunities to supervise and train probationers to clean up trash along other Caltrans areas. The total investment by Caltrans for these two agreements is $3.7 million.
HereÕs to a cleaner Santa Clara County!
If you have questions, please call my office at 408-299-5030 or email me atÊdave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org.

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