San Jose residents demanding action from city leaders over illegal dump site citing health, safety concerns

"I don't know what to think about it because this is insane, and it goes down the whole way. It's taken up a football field or two, and it's just completely sad."

Amanda del Castillo Image
Friday, September 11, 2020
SJ residents demanding city leaders to respond to illegal dump site
Residents in the South Bay living near a massive illegal dump site in South San Jose said they are tired of excuses and inaction from city leaders.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents in the South Bay living near a massive illegal dump site in south San Jose told ABC7 News, they are tired of excuses and inaction from city leaders.

They are demanding the City of San Jose do something about the growing mounds of trash, citing public health and safety concerns.

Along busy Monterey Road near Bailey Avenue, the illegal dump site runs about the length of a football field.

"I think there's like 15 cars out there now that are just completely disassembled," resident David Nettemeyer told ABC7 News. "And there's just mounds and mounds of trash."

Nettemeyer is behind an online petition, demanding Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilman Sergio Jimenez and Union Pacific Railroad provide a timeline for trash removal.

RELATED: Crackdown on illegal dumping coming to the East Bay

He and other residents first noticed the issue late last year, but said those mounds have grown more massive in the last four months.

"It's extremely dangerous having all that trash sitting right there on the side of the road," Nettemeyer added. "Mattresses right on the side of the road that could easily be pushed over because it's overflowing over the barrier at this point."

Curious about what was littered along the side of the road, Sunnyvale Resident Kurtis Swain immediately pulled over.

"I don't know what to think about it because this is insane, and it goes down the whole way," Swain said. "It's taken up a football field or two, and it's just completely sad. I pulled over to see what it was- to see if it was a start of a junk yard."

There are also homeless encampments within the debris, putting people along Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

RELATED: Alameda County joins Oakland in pilot program aimed at combating illegal dumping program

Nettemeyer is pleading with people to stay away, and stop driving south to dump garbage along Monterey Road.

"Please don't add to the problem. I mean, it's horrendous. I think it's one of the worst in all of San Jose," he said. "So please think of the people that live down here and have to deal with this and see it on a daily basis."

Nettemeyer said the area is an unsightly public health and safety issue. Adding, it's concern that has gone unanswered by city leaders.

"Well, it's Union Pacific's problem. Well, it's COVID-19, and it's restriction after restriction," Nettemeyer told ABC7 News, of the responses he's received from city leaders. "'We can't move the homeless because we have no place for them to live.' You know, those are the comments they've been making left and right. It's just excuses and not solutions."

He continued, "We want a timeline of when this is going to be cleaned up. We were told January, and now we're sitting in September."

ABC7 News sought answers from Mayor Liccardo's office. They said he was unavailable.

Councilman Jimenez said he's known about the specific site for a month. Jimenez said he's since been championing an effort to get it cleared.

He was going to do an interview, but canceled, saying he's now working with the mayor's office on a specific date for action.

ABC7 News also reached out to Union Pacific. Senior Director of Public Affairs, Francisco Castillo said Union Pacific is already in the middle of a citywide cleanup effort.

"We've been in San Jose the past two weeks and will continue to be there for another five to six weeks," Castillo said. "We'll address every transient encampment on Union Pacific's right-of-way that exists today."

He added, "That means that Monterey will potentially, if the timeline goes as planned, be cleaned up within the next two weeks."

Castillo said Union Pacific is trying to be a good partner.

RELATED: Contra Costa County looking at new plan to curb illegal trash dumping

"We have dedicated a significant amount as a result, to show that we don't just say we're going to do something, we're actually doing it. But is it enough," he asked himself. "We can always do more."

Castillo said the effort is an expansion of what ABC7 News reported on back in December. We featured a story about a partnership between Union Pacific and the City of San Jose to improve safety on railroads.

He added, "It's not an issue that Union Pacific can solve alone. It's a much bigger societal issue that we are a component and a variable in helping to address, but we can't come up with a solution."

Jimenez said more information should be available in the coming days.

Following ABC7's story on the illegal dump site on Thursday, Mayor Liccardo and Councilman Jimenez released a joint statement Friday morning. They addressed demands from residents for a timeline, promising action by the end of the month.

"We are aware of the large illegal dumping site that has been growing in the Coyote Valley. The stretch of dumping between Monterey Road and the Union Pacific Railroad near Bailey Ave is owned and controlled by four different entities the City of San Jose, Union Pacific Railroad, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and private property owners. Coordination between these groups has occurred for several weeks in order to safely relocate any unhoused residents residing in the area, clear abandoned vehicles, bring heavy equipment for an intense multi-agency, multi-day clean up and introduce enforcement actions to deter future illegal dumping. This work is on track to begin by the end of the month."

Check out more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area.