UPDATE: In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the City Council adopted new penalties for illegal dumping. The fines range from $2,500 for the first violation to $5,000 and $10,000 for subsequent violations. That's far higher than the fees recommended by staff, which topped out at $3,000.
To crack down on illegal dumping, San Jose may enact steep fines for people who leave their junk on the streets. The City Council will vote on the plan when it meets Tuesday.
Proposed fines would range from $1,000 for a first offense, to $1,500 for a second and $3,000 for subsequent violations.
According to city staff, illegal dumping has increased by 75 percent overall and 50 percent on public property in the past three years. But the lack of a code prohibiting the practice renders the city’s efforts to combat it “reactive and insufficient.”
San Jose—the only major Bay Area city without fines for unauthorized dumping—budgeted $250,000 last year to clean up unwanted items left on the streets. But that money only covered one-time cleanups, not preventative efforts.
An August study on the dumping problem found that people dumped their unwanted furniture and other junk on the streets because of a lack of convenient, affordable and timely disposal options.
As part of the 2014-15 budget, the city included large item collection in the waste service for apartments. Having an on-call service increased the number of large-item collections almost tenfold, according to the city, from 2,000 collections in 2013-14 to 19,500 last year.
The city identified apartment dwellers as the biggest offenders because renters may be less invested in the community and absentee landlords fail to respond to problems.
By leveraging resources from various city departments—primarily Planning, Building and Code Enforcement as well as Environmental Services—the city hopes to bolster preventative measures.
“Additionally, city departments will collaborate to refine the community reporting process by leveraging technology and streamlining our call taking procedures,” according to a memo by Planning chief Harry Freitas and Environmental Services director Kerrie Romanow.
Some of the “hot spots” for illegal dumping include downtown around San Jose State University and neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the city. The city will reach out to community groups to enlist their help in monitoring those areas instead of waiting to respond to complaints.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 27, 2015:
- It could cost $6.6 million to quell the stink from the sludge-drying pools at the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.
- Given the high probability of a stormy El Niño-soaked winter, San Jose is developing a preparedness plan to protect flood-prone neighborhoods and the thousands of unsheltered homeless residents.
- A digital parking space-counting system for the downtown garage by San Pedro Square may cost up to $40,000.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260