What’s needed from the City are speedy trash pick-ups and enforcement strategies that deter illegal dumping

67,260 pounds   

That’s the humongous amount of trash collected since the November elections by Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), St. Louis Bertrand Church and supporters in monthly cleanups in East Oakland flatlands! — City of Oakland stats, July 2017

Background: Over the past nine months, OCO leaders at St. Louis Bertrand Church have been battling Illegal dumping in the East Oakland flatlands. To press City Hall for solutions, OCO organized public meetings with Mayor Libby Schaaf, District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid and other city officials in November 2016 and February 2017. Fed up by the problem, more than 1,000 people flocked to the gatherings.

Partners in this growing movement now include City Hall, neighboring churches, community residents, union members and environmental activists like Save the Bay, which emphasizes illegal dumping’s role in polluting San Francisco Bay. Illegal dumping in Oakland and other local areas creates street trash, which flows through storm drains, into creeks and out into the Bay. The City of Oakland and several other parts of the East Bay must reduce stormwater trash 70 percent below 2009 levels or they may face costly penalties imposed under the Clean Water Act.

What’s Up: Progress has been made but not enough. OCO is pressing City Hall to implement a plan that will SOLVE the illegal dumping problem. On August 3, OCO leaders hosted the TRASH TALKS Town Hall Meeting at St. Louis Bertrand Church. They had tough questions for Mayor Schaaf, Director Jason Mitchell and Frank Foster from Public Works; Greg Minor, assistant to Oakland’s city administrator; and Ana Gomez-Alvarado, representing Reid’s office. A few highlights from City Hall’s various responses:

  • The City of Oakland’s recently approved 2017-2019 budget includes $1,140,000 to fight illegal dumping. One illegal dumping crew will be added—not the two crews that had been in budget proposals before the final vote. (Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Desley Brooks, who were called from the audience to comment, said they were among those who favored two crews.) Schaaf emphasized that the budget can be amended at any time.
  • There’s more equipment now: 6 trucks on the job; four cameras. Mitchell said Public Works will be proactive in going after hot spots and targeted streets—before they get calls.
  • Mitchell gave no specifics on plans to reduce the amount of Oakland trash that ends up in the Bay but said he will have a report ready in mid-September. (Note: The city has authorized installation of trash-capture devices in storm drains, using Measure KK funds.)
  • Enforcement is a major problem and the typical person ignores the fine. Minor, from the City Admin’s office, spoke of the need for better strategies, including stakeouts, more cameras at hot spots, a staffer whose sole job is to monitor video from the cameras and publicizing effective arrests. He said the City is pursuing a grant to fund new approaches and asked for community support. A good idea from the floor: Make folks pay dumping citations before they can register vehicles at the DMV!


St. Louis Bertrand Church, 1410 100th Ave., Oakland 94603
• 1st Thursdays, 7 p.m., Community Meetings
• 3rd Saturdays, Community Cleanups, start at 8:30 a.m., meet at the parking lot

Learn More:

Oakland is cleaning up its act when it comes to trash, East Bay Times, July 18, 2017

East Oakland residents frustrated with illegal dumping. KTVU, August 3, 2017



“Good morning everyone, here are the pictures [taken] yesterday at Olive St between 79-80th Ave, just to give another idea of the issue the community is struggling with [on] a daily [basis].”—Emma Paulino in June 16, 2017 email to Mayor Schaaf, City Councilmembers and other officials

Olive Street between 79th and 80th avenues, June 2017

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