San Jose launches new pilot program to clean up city streets

The City of San Jose is implementing a new pilot program to clean up the city. The council voted unanimously Tuesday on a new code enforcement policy to remove graffiti, trash and other debris from city streets. 

Peter Ortiz represents District 5 in San Jose and says these new code enforcement policies will hold everyone accountable for improving how the city looks.

"What we want to say to the community is that it’s time to lift up the quality of life in East San Jose. Enough is enough, right?" said Peter Ortiz, San Jose City Council member, Dist. 5 

Trash, old furniture, graffiti, used appliances and overgrown weeds. The city of San Jose is gearing up to get these things off the streets, holding residents, property owners, and those who dump items illegally responsible. The Focus Area Service Team (FAST) will now conduct code inspections in the areas with the most blight before citizen complaints are made. 

"So what we have here is illegal dumping within the Eastside. People just come by, they throw their trash on the sidewalk, which something common we see. If you look at probably any one of these streets, you are going to see boxes, trash, materials, just left on the street corner," Ortiz said.  

The FAST pilot program will have three tiers: awareness and education, proactive inspections and enforcement which includes monetary fines. According to the city, the highest rate of code violations and blight are in Districts 3, 5 and 6. Ortiz, who represents District 5, says the city has also hired more staff to conduct blight inspections in San Jose.  

"Downtown is a focused area. The El Monte/Santa Clara St. corridor, which I’m very appreciative of, is a focused area. Within my district, it’s the Mt. Pleasant area which we’re in now and the Cassell area neighborhood. These areas were prioritized because their census tracts included some of the highest levels of code enforcement violations and complaints on the record," Ortiz said.    

Ortiz also believes outsiders are contributing to the blight in San Jose. 

"So some people may just want to get rid of it, or they may not even be from our community. We have a lot of contractors who are dumping extra material after they’re done with their projects," Ortiz said.  

Ortiz says people should call 3-1-1 to pick up items including furniture and appliances, but it may take a few days. He also says the city will work with those who may be low income and create financial plans to repay fines.