OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - East Oakland residents say they're fed up with people illegally dumping garbage in their neighborhoods and they're demanding city leaders to take action.
They held a community meeting at the gym of St. Anthony's School Monday night, where they told the mayor, city council members and other leaders what they want.
One homeowner took a KTVU crew to several hotspots that illustrate how big the problem is.
"It's construction debris. It's everything. Sometimes, you find dead animals. You find human feces," said Angel Patino, who pointed to a pile of trash on B Street at 87th Avenue.
He said he lives just steps from it.
Patino describes the garbage as an eyesore that's hazardous.
He and other residents blame a lack of enforcement for increased dumping at many hotspots.
"I'm disgusted,” said Patino. “I'm tired of living like this.”
Another resident who lives in the Fruitvale neighborhood said city leaders need to take proactive measures.
"When it's complaint-driven, you have to wait for something to happen. This is happening every day," said Andre Spearman, who's lived in Oakland for decades and is now an organizer with East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods, a group formed to deal with issues including illegal dumping.
Monday night's community meeting drew about 500 people. They demanded that the city hire more workers to carry out enforcement and pick up trash.
"We have been getting sweet sounding words but not action," said one speaker from the podium.
On a projection screen, neighbors showed photos of how clean the Oakland hills are in contrast to what they describe as "the flatlands."
City leaders said they are working on more funding and they're starting an educational campaign that will put the names of offenders on billboards.
"If you are caught illegally dumping, we have some of the most aggressive fines. We will catch you and humiliate you," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who was among the city leaders at the meeting.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley says she's working on a program that will use former inmates who are part of Acts Full Gospel Church to help abate illegal dumping.
"They can actually pick up the garbage and to move it away from that spot. But at the same time, be the eyes and ears to help the investigative division identify the people who are doing the dumping," said O'Malley.
Homeowner Patino said he's considered moving out of Oakland in part because of the problem.
"I was born and raised here. I have family that's here. I have memories here. I don't want to leave," said Patino.
Residents say they plan to keep the pressure on city leaders.
They plan to hold at City Hall in May or June. If necessary, they say they will vote in new leaders when the time comes.