uFixIt: Trash near Candlestick Park piles up

January 13, 2012 8:54:23 PM PST
If you plan to attend the San Francisco 49er game on Saturday against the Saints, you should leave your trash at the stadium, not in the neighborhood. That is the plea from people who live near Candlestick Park -- a place most of us never visit, unless its football season.

Exiting off Highway 101, on the way to Candlestick Park, there are some beautiful bay views, wildlife and a lot of trash.

"Well, welcome to 'The Stick' as I like to call it," said Gilbert Goodworth.

Goodworth lives out there and he's trying to get something done about the constant barrage of garbage tossed, dumped and blown on the bay shore.

"I don't know if this is installation or what this is," said Goodworth as he picks through the trash.

On our tour, we saw every kind of trash, thousands of tiny pieces of plastic instead of sand and we even found medical waste. So where is it all coming from?

"One of our biggest offenders... 49ers fans who need parking passes and tickets," said Goodworth as he picked up a sign.

Besides some bad fans, Goodworth also suspects people use the desolate area to dump garbage from home and construction projects. He also says the passing trucks from the recycling plant nearby have something to do with it.

We asked Recology spokesperson Robert Reed about that. He says the recycling trucks are sealed tight and he took us on a forensics tour of his own.

"This is intact, this was never in a garbage can, that was just someone who threw that out the window of their car," said Reed.

Reed says Recology is just as upset about the dumping as the neighbors.

"This should have gone into a recycling bin, this is fiber, it can be made into new paper products," said Reed.

"The sources for this trash are many," said Allison Chan, a Save the Bay policy associate.

Chan says the stress on wildlife here can't be underestimated.

"Especially, plastic bags and Styrofoam and when they break down into small pieces they look like food to wildlife and that will eventually suffocate wildlife that try to ingest it," said Chan.

So what can be done? There is so much trash tossed near Candlestick that Caltrans says they can't keep up. They clean the area every other week.

"But there's just so much litter, it looks like we haven't done anything because you know, we'll take care of it and a couple of days later its littered again," said Bob Haus, a Caltrans spokesperson.

Changing the mindset of dumpers is an uphill battle and each person we talked to has a different approach. Chan says laws that get rid of plastic bags instead of going after people is a big step.

"We're encouraging every Bay Area city to stop these polluting materials at the source by banning their use," said Chan.

After we called, Caltrans sent a crew to clean up and they plan on putting in some extra hours picking up trash by hand, a labor-intensive process. They're asking the fans this weekend and anyone who drives out here, to think about the costs.

"All the other things that we should be spending our time and resources on, highway maintenance, we have to devote a lot of that just to picking up other people's litter," said Haus.

And from Recology we got an offer and a card. They say neighbors should call them about the next mattress or TV set they see on the side of the road.

"We'll send out one of our workers to pick it up. We're a good neighbor, we help keep the city clean and we help keep this neighborhood clean," said Reed.

However, Goodworth won't be satisfied until it's all gone, whatever that takes.

"You know if this was Crissy Field, this would not be happening. We're surrounded by trash and it doesn't need to be that way, so please someone give us a hand," said Goodworth.

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