San Jose Looks to Ramp Up Illegal Dumping Enforcement

To kick off the #BeautifySJ campaign highlighted in his State of the City speech over the weekend, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo set aside Monday morning to pick up illegally dumped trash.

The campaign builds on a years-long effort by the city to combat illegal dumping, which has been on the rise as the housing crisis displaces families and forces thousands of people to sleep on the streets and riverbanks. According to a report going before the City Council on Tuesday, the city has cleaned up nearly 1,200 mattresses, 620 shopping carts, 320 tons of debris, 422 gallons of motor oil, 148 gallons of paint and 151 gallons of human waste since last summer.

Source: City of San Jose

Source: City of San Jose

Since San Jose began offering free junk hauling for single-family homes in 2014, the number of pickups has grown from 7,050 to 15,240 this past fiscal year. The mayor will ask the council this week to consider expanding the program.

Liccardo’s #BeautifySJ campaign will leverage partnerships with CalTrans and expand neighborhood grants for localized cleanups. For more on that, visit

The city’s illegal dumping response team fields about 26 calls for service per day, according to the status report. About 70 percent of the calls relate to junk left on public right-of-ways.

To keep up with the demand, the city’s Environmental Services Department has teamed up with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office weekend work program, which assigns low-level offenders to community service in lieu of jail. On average, the city gets help from seven weekenders a day, five days a week.

For homeless encampments, the city sends out its Homeless Response Team, which tries to connect people with social services before dismantling the camps. Volunteers then help clean up remaining trash and watershed rangers patrol the area to prevent people from resettling.

In December, the county entered into a $790,320 agreement with the California Department of Transportation to help with trash pickup. The funding pays for a crew of six “at-risk” teens and young adults to clean up and maintain Caltrans right-of-ways.

As part of the city’s mid-year budget review, the council will consider spending $133,000 to install cameras, signs, gates or lighting in 10 hotspots that account for about half of all reports of illegal dumping.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for February 14, 2017:

  • While the city budget is fairly stable, it’s still unable to bring services back to pre-recession levels, according to a mid-year budget review. Two urgent actions recommended by city finance staff, however, include spending $275,000 on cyber-security measures and another $75,000 to fund legal services for the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
  •  George Lahlouh, the owner of craft cocktail lounge Paper Plane in downtown San Jose, is fiercely opposed to a proposal submitted by Jenny Wolfes to open a new nightclub on South First Street. Calling her other venues “tasteless and unappealing,” Lahlouh urged the city to deny her petition for a late-night use permit for a club called FUZ Bar and Grill. “We were concerned about an operator with a dangerous and reckless track record, trying to open a high-occupancy night club in the heart of our neighborhood—something that is most likely to happen if given a permit for late night use,” Lahlouh wrote in a letter to downtown Councilman Raul Peralez. “We have concerns for the safety of our staff, our patrons, and our community and absolutely have the right to be concerned. We have worked hard to build up the First Street community because we love San Jose. It’s home. We don’t feel Ms. Wolfes is right for this community and we stand in opposition of her [conditional use permit] application for late night use.”

WHAT: City Council
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. I seem to remember a time not long ago when people doing time or community service picked up the trash in parks, streets, and along the freeways. Now it’s costing us $800,000 for caltrans workers at likly twice minimum wage to pick
    up the mess that only cost the fuel for a bus and orange plastic bags and a dump truck.

    I remember a friend of mine telling me he was giving up drinking because he hated spending his weekend picking up trash.

    Nice working with the Sheriff Sam, at least you got that right.

  2. The photo caption states that SJ is cracking down on illegal dumping. My definition of cracking down on illegal dumping is to arrest the dumpers. SJI’s definition seems to be picking up the trash at taxpayer expense, which means the folks being cracked down upon are the taxpayers. California is the most litter ridden state in the union. What is so different about California’s population than that of any other state?

    • Stinky Sam and Fast Eddy are way too busy hiding Illegal Aliens in city owned basements to be looking the dumpers.
      The Dumpers another band of misfits we should be able to deport.

  3. > What is so different about California’s population than that of any other state?

    I dunno. Just guessing:

    73% of Californian’s voted for Hillary?

  4. Meanwhile just this week, a directive came out to patrol supervisors that DOT will not be towing any cars in san jose! What is the motivation behind this? Is this part of the whole sanctuary thing? Who makes these decisions? SAM is setting up a recipe for disaster. Crime, homeless and more blight at least illegal aliens that commit crimes will be safe in the sanctuary. We can all sleep better tonight.

  5. According to this study, which was reasonably scientific, California was the second cleanest state. Of course, there is way too much litter all over the US, unfortunately, and efforts to make the environment cleaner are always a good thing.

  6. The Mayor’s re-election campaign is beginning a little early this cycle?

    Or is this…

    What if Sam actually does run against Zoe?

    • I’m just so sure Zoei will turn this border town into a wonderful Potemkin village complete with democratically elected one party system. I’ve just puked all over my keyboard again!

    • What if Sam actually does run against Zoe?
      Tough to tell. They’d both get a large percentage of the illegal alien vote.

  7. $790,320 for six teenagers? Why that’s only $131,720 per teenager. How are these poor exploited teens gonna feed their families on a lousy 130K?

  8. We at Best San Jose Towing do feel pride in saying that we have instructed all of our emergency responders to take care of the environmental cleanliness well. Our men do clear the roadside of any junk left after the accident and that includes leaked fluids as well.

  9. I just completed a 2 week tour of the east coast, even New York is cleaner than SJ. Connecticut I 95 traffic is worse. Road condition in NY is about the same as here TERRIBLE!
    NJ is better, Georgia and South Carolina are spotless and the roads are much better. Hardly a bump on Georgia’s freeways.
    NJ. cleaner with better roads than California, I’m so ashamed! We look like central America!

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