East Oakland residents frustrated with illegal dumping

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In East Oakland Thursday night, residents flocked to the St. Louis Betrand Catholic Church school basement to talk trash.

"We need to live in a society where our children feel safe...from trash," said Reverend Davita Davis-Howard of First Mt. Sinai church.

Mountains of trash are being illegally dumped daily on Oakland streets. At a community meeting Thursday residents of District Seven in East Oakland told the mayor and city officials they've had enough.

Jose Diaz says last Friday they found trash outside their home on 102nd street.

"One day we just wake up and I was going to work and I find out that there was a mattress outside of our house," said Diaz.

Diaz said it took four days before a city crew came to remove it.

"We called and they said we can't do anything until we have some more calls from your neighbors," said Diaz.

Neighbors have partnered with the interfaith Oakland Community Organizers group to hold volunteer clean-up crews every third Saturday. Residents say so far this year they have collected more than 67,000 pounds of illegally dumped trash.

"Construction debris, you see marijuana garbage, mattresses, people like might have moved out of their homes and dumped everything. You see dead animals, human feces," said Angel Patino an Oakland resident who helped organize the meeting and the clean-up efforts.

Oakland public works staff say it is a citywide problem, with city crews picking up 81,000 tons of illegal dumping debris.

"The power of the people is what we try to unleash," said Angela Noel, a member of the Oakland Community Organizations, "I think what wev'e seen is the intense desire to improve the quality of life here."

Many residents say they want the city to do more.

"There's lack of enforcement not enough enforcement," said Patino.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said she promises to continue supporting the residents' efforts and personally join the clean-up crews for a second time in the next six months.

"It is ridiculous no one should have to live with trash on their sidewalks. No one should have to look at piles of trash," said Mayor Schaaf.

Oakland's new city budget includes funding for one new illegal dumping crew. A second one was cut from the budget, which sparked heated discussion at one point in the meeting and some political finger-pointing between the Mayor and Oakland Board of Supervisors members Desley Brooks and Noel Gallo who also attended the meeting.

The director of public works said the goal of the new crew will be to respond to illegal dumping complaints and focus proactively on dumping  hot spots.

City officials say they want to hear residents' ideas for solving the problems. The city is also pursuing a federal grant to double the number of cameras from 4 to 8 and get funding to staff stakeouts at dumping hot spots so police can arrest suspects immediately.

"The idea about stakeouts, the idea around lien…DMV, your permit for your car, you can't get your car unless you paid your citations and fines, that's an idea that came from this community," said Mayor Schaaf.

City officials say the illegal dumping fine is up to $1,000 a day. The typical citation is $3,000, but many people simply ignore the fines.

A KTVU 2 Investigates segment in November found the city had received about 20,000 complaints in a 12-month period, but issued only 65 citations.

The mayor says she hopes to hear any ideas residents might have for solving the dumping problem.

Residents hope more people will volunteer for the clean-up crews and hope the city will follow through on taking more action.

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