Push for $3M boost to combat illegal dumping in San Jose as city identifies 200 problem sites

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- There are new developments in a story we brought you last week, surrounding trash and illegal dumping in San Jose.

Mayor Sam Liccardo, and councilmembers Dev Davis, Sergio Jimenez and Lan Diep announced they're pushing for a $3-million boost to combat blight across the region. They shared a memorandum on Monday.

RELATED: SJ residents demanding action from city leaders over illegal dump site citing health, safety concerns

During a virtual press conference in the afternoon, Mayor Liccardo told viewers, "By making this commitment to resources, we're saying, 'It's on us.'"

The city leaders confirmed they've heard the concerns; they've seen the trash. Now, they're taking action.

Last Thursday, ABC7 News showed viewers this massive, illegal dump site along Monterey Road near Bailey Avenue in south San Jose. On Friday, Liccardo and Jimenez released a joint statement, promising action at that specific location by the end of this month.

The site is just one of hundreds that have already been identified by the city.

"When we presented to the council on Sept. 1st, we identified about 200 locations where we are responding today," Deputy City Manager Jim Ortbal said during Monday's press conference. "About 150 of them are the more significant sites. Probably, many of the visible ones that you're talking about, or that you've referenced in the memorandum. And we will definitely be deploying to those locations."

RELATED: Crackdown on illegal dumping coming to the East Bay

Mayor Liccardo added, "We simply don't have the resources to get to enough of those sites fast enough. So these resources are going to be critical for us."

The 3-page memo outlines the push for $3-million in additional funding.

"The memorandum directs staff to find highly visible locations. Certainly, staff's been doing a lot of work on data analysis," Liccardo told reporters. "Looking at where the complaints are. And they've also gone out there proactively- really monitoring the city in various places. Also looking at encampments and so forth."

In a subsequent release, the mayor's office stated, "One of the greatest issues that the City faces in cleaning these high traffic locations is lack of resources. City staff regularly collects 45 tons of trash and debris from city streets each week. These additional funds will allow for hiring more contractors and bring back some furloughed employees to increase the level of service to the community."

"I hope it doesn't just go to like, admin fees and building up data," resident, Justin Imamura told ABC7 News. "Because we know there's trash out there."

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

Imamura is the founder of The Trash Punx- a group of residents who before COVID, met monthly to clean creeks and streets.

"During COVID, we haven't been able to do as much just because it hasn't been super safe," Imamura said. "And with the county restrictions and guidelines, we're only able to do events up to 60."

He shared, "We don't discriminate against trash and where it comes from. We just go and just pick it up."

The group is not a registered nonprofit. However, Imamura said The Trash Punx are partnered through Echo.Church.

Imamura said for him, it's not about placing blame, but rather being part of the solution.

He continued, "I was personally sick and tired of hearing people complain on Nextdoor, on Facebook, 'Well, why isn't the city do anything about it?'"

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

However, the responsibility is not the city's alone. The mayor highlighted the need for partner agencies like Caltrans, Union Pacific, and Valley Water to get on-board.

"Collectively, we can do far more to bolster our battle against blight-- by the City stepping up its efforts, but also by demanding that our partner public agencies take responsibility for cleaning their own property on our freeways, in our creeks, and railroads," Mayor Liccardo added.

Beyond that, the mayor is urging every resident and business to follow the rules to do their part.

"I can assure those who are doing the illegal dumping, we have been setting up cameras, we are doing enforcement, and we will be looking for you," he told ABC7 News.

Imamura said the group of residents who take part in monthly clean-ups don't pay much attention to cross-jurisdictional areas.

"We don't care, trash is wherever it might be," Imamura told ABC7 News. "If it's on a railroad line, or if it's in the middle of the street, we don't care. We just pick up the trash. When we go out there, we just do it."

During Monday's press conference, Liccardo added, "It really is on each one of us. We have to be certainly looking out for ourselves, our neighborhoods, reporting the dumping when we see it. And taking advantage of our services- particularly the free junk pick-up service the city offers."

The mayor said residents can do an enormous amount from their own homes.

"Just by making sure that if you've got junk that needs to be picked up, you call the city and we'll pick it up for free. Rather than having to dispose somewhere where it shouldn't be," he said. "And identify the hot spots for us. Use the 3-1-1 app, it's free to download. Call 3-1-1 if that doesn't work, and let us know so that we can ensure we put the resources where the problem is."

Imamura said the next event for The Trash Punx is scheduled for September 26.

"We had to reschedule because of the air quality," he said. "We're going to be out, cleaning Coyote Creek in San Jose. We're going to be out there with the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition. Now, this event can only hold up to 60 people per the county orders. So, you have to sign up super-fast."

To visit The Trash Punx website, click here.

To view the official memorandum by Liccardo, Davis, Jimenez and Diep, click here.
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