City officials held a press conference Wednesday announcing they are ready to get serious about cleaning up piles of junk, saying the problem got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"One of our difficulties as your city government is that we have struggled to maintain the cleaning services that we traditionally have provided. Not only the challenges of COVID, the shelter in place orders, the safety precautions that we must take with our workforce, prevented us from providing our normal levels of cleaning," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
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"Despite our financial challenges, and despite a city wide hiring freeze, we advanced a council directive to actually add more cleaning crews to the city of Oakland family," she said.
The city now has 15 employees dedicated to picking up piles of junk left out on the streets. That's up from 12 workers before. The city says the team will go from a complaint based system to a proactive one.
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Officials also announced a rewards plan, saying residents could earn reward money if they send in video of someone illegally dumping that the city can use to enforce the law.
"We count on you to be our eyes and our ears, to tell us where to go to pick up illegal dumping, to address the cleanliness of this city. Everyone deserves to live in a clean city. But we recognize that parts of this city have been unfairly tortured with trash and illegal dumping," Mayor Schaaf said.
She said residents can call 311 or upload video to Oakland's 311 app.
She says there are more plans in the works.
"We are serious about this spring cleaning," Mayor Schaaf said. "So, this is the first in a series of spring cleaning announcements for this city. We are excited as our COVID cases are coming down. Our vaccinations are coming up. Everybody is ready to get back to socializing, to enjoying the beauty of this city. The city needs to be clean for us to enjoy it fully."
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