City of Stockton Works to Curb Illegal Dumping

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STOCKTON -- City officials in Stockton say illegal dumping is a persistent problem that has gotten worse in recent years, this despite having a trash pick-up program by its solid waste contractors.

“It’s ugly, it’s ugly and it makes the street look ugly," said resident Chris Wingate.

Wingate says she may not have moved onto Otto Drive if she knew about the level of illegal dumping.

Over the years, the city of Stockton has cleaned up homeless camps that were a collection point for tons of trash. But illegal dumps are also appearing in residential neighborhoods. Often they are on dead-end streets or tucked away in secluded areas. The trash can be large, broken or unwanted furniture and appliances or house repair and demolition materials.

And the dumping is sometimes brazen, FOX40 spotted one example on Kelly Drive in North Stockton -- a huge pile dumped in front of the mailboxes for the neighborhood partially blocked the street.

“They just drop stuff on the corner and you have to drive around it to get to your house," resident Charles Crawford said.

Monday’s meeting at city hall was called in part to remind residents that they can call their trash hauler to take away a load of trash. It’s something the city used to do once a year for residents, but it’s now by appointment only. Some neighbors say that has made matter worse.

“The neighborhood used to be real clean, but they stopped the yearly trash pick up, and now you can come around the neighborhood and see people dumping stuff off, and it’s real bad for the neighborhood," Crawford said.

The city recently approved $75,000 to staff county jail crews to clean-up dumping sites.

“We just decided to use some discretionary funds, the council decided that those discretionary funds should go toward cleaning up the city," Stockton Vice Mayor Elbert Holman said.

But the large solution is to catch illegal dumpers, which can be people from outside Stockton, or contractors or workers who want to avoid county dumping fees at its waste facility. That takes eyes and ears and a willingness to cal police or code enforcement.

“We’re going to be proactive on the other side of the coins too, so if we catch you dumping, there’s going be a consequence," Holman said.

Some take the illegal dumping personally. After all, people associate residents with the look of their neighborhood.

“Say what, those people are nasty ... that’s not OK, we don’t want that," Fibiola Santana said.

Santana fears what people might say about her.

“What’s wrong with those people, what are they doing to the city," she said.

Others fear the unsightly piles of trash will create what’s called the broken window effect in neighborhoods -- attracting more dumping, vandalism and graffiti.

"It's a bad precedent, it kind of gives the idea that it’s OK to destroy and trash," resident Odillon Sta Teresa said.

This neighborhood  has already gotten a reputation among illegal dumpers.

“People dump the stuff, and they’ll pick it up, and then it will come right back, and two days later you have more piles of trash," Crawford said.