Oakland Mayor announces new methods to combat litter

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- "This is a direct response to demands from the community," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, as she announced an aggressive new approach to combating her city's rampant and often disgusting litter problem.

On Thursday, Schaaf and City Council member Abel Guillen will request $500,000 in immediate funding to hire three litter enforcement officers.

"These litter enforcement officers are going to be like trash detectives," explained Schaaf. "Their job is to actually analyze the dumping that's being done and try to trace it back to its source."

The problem is especially acute in areas around the city's many homeless encampments, like this in West Oakland, near the Emeryville border.

"The dumping is ridiculous," said Bill Eason, who owns a classic car repair shop near a huge tent encampment. "People who are either too lazy or think they're doing good will come down here and give the homeless their used mattresses. And I've chased a bunch of them away, saying 'What do you think you're doing?'"

The problem has been dealt with to some extent around the city's Tuff Shed shelter near downtown. anbd another is under construction, at 27th St., underneath the Highway 24 freeway.

Once the Tuff Sheds are complete and the residents move in, the city will come through and cleanup all the tents and debris left behind.

"This is reactive," said Ken Houston, a longtime resident and mayoral candidate who has done his own digging into Oakland's mounting garbage problem.

"We have to catch someone and we have to prosecute, because this is a crime against our community. They dump between a certain time frame," said Houston.

The city currently offers rewards for those who report illegal dumping. The reward is based on the dollar amount of the fines recovered. Residents can call 311 to report illegal activity.

"I am committed to working with our partners in the mayor's office and at the City of Oakland to find a solution to the illegal dumping crisis that plagues our city," said James Harris, who represents District 7 on the Oakland School Board. "It is imperative that we provide safe, clean routes to school for all of our students and families."

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