San Jose officials address trash, graffiti problems along highways

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Trash and graffiti along highways has become a continuous problem in San Jose. Now, city officials are asking a state agency to pay more attention.

When you drive into the city of San Jose, it's hard to miss the view of trash scattered along several highways throughout the city.

The persistent problem has San Jose officials calling for a state agency to step up. "Basically the issue is Caltrans says they've got a lot of vacancies in their maintenance crews. And that's why the freeways look awful. And they pay everyone the same throughout the state," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

The same pay structure in an expensive city, has forced many Caltrans workers to move. So now, San Jose has a solution to speed up clean-up efforts. "Today, we will see a contract approved for $3 million approximately with the San Jose Conservation Corps, to get team members out there improving the condition of the highways," Liccardo said.

Clean up is a good step, but Senator Jim Beall says it is not a long-term solution. "Just putting it into law enforcement mode and constant clean up, clean up and clean up mode doesn't solve the problem. The real answer is to provide some housing for the homeless," Beall said.

He said much of the litter is from abandoned homeless encampments. "We can't just keep pushing the homeless from one place to another," Beall said.

Caltrans says it's having a hard time staying on top of the trashed highways. In 2015-2016, the Caltrans South Bay regional office received more than 7,000 maintenance service requests.

The city's proposal also includes public input on different ways to clean up graffiti.

City solutions backed by state dollars in an effort to make these highways cleaner and safer.
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