Treat Trash like Graffiti

Our View: the city’s graffiti hotline, 846-0395, should also be
used to report illegal trash dumping, and the city needs to review
laws with an eye toward stiff fines and a push for enforcement
On the 12th day of Christmas, some dumper left for me:

12 computer monitors,

11 stained mattresses,

10 sprung couches,

9 bald tires,

8 washing machines,

7 bags of garbage,

6 televisions,

5 refrigerators,

4 electric stoves,

3 campers,

2 fireplaces,

and a pool table missing balls and

cues …

only it was actually 66 mattresses that have been removed from Gilroy streets in the past year.

Illegal dumping is out of control in our fair city and the surrounding countryside. The alleyways in the downtown section and the country roads surrounding us are the dumping grounds of choice for people who cannot or will not shell out the cash to pay dump fees.

Apartment dwellers luck into a better used sofa … so the old used couch gets dumped in the alley, under cover of darkness. Grandma goes into a nursing home; the grandkids hire a guy with a truck to clear out 40 years accumulation of debris … and the guy pockets the extra $25 and dumps grandma’s stuff into a creek bed. Grandma wasn’t even necessarily a Gilroy resident. It seems that the more-crowded north county finds our deserted rural roads tempting sites for illicit trash disposal.

It costs. Farmers are hit hardest because of the sheer volume of trash dumped on the borders of their fields. City dwellers whose properties abut alleys suffer as well. In fact, we all pay: with our tax dollars when the city has to pick up illegally dumped stuff, with our health when trash harbors rats and feces and needles, with our environment when monitors and refrigerators leak toxins in to the groundwater. Illegal dumping hurts us all.

How do we fight back?

People who own property where illegal dumping occurs need to report all incidents to the authorities immediately and clean up all dump sites promptly. Dumpers will add more to an existing pile. If a particular location is repeatedly used as a dump site, consider installing a web camera to catch the dumpers.

Also, grandma’s next of kin need to screen the guys who haul their trash away. Ask the question: Where and how does the trash hauler dispose of the garbage?

South Valley Disposal can consider lowering its dump fees or offering one-free-load coupons on a quarterly basis rather than annually. All such notices should be in bold type and printed in Spanish as well as English. Isn’t it better to give people another free coupon than to have to haul the load out of Little Llagas Creek?

Finally, the city needs to respond promptly to calls about illegal dumping – within 24 hours, not 10 days. If evidence linking the trash to a perpetrator is found, a stern visit from a community services officer – and a bill – are in order.

Granted, it’s likely perpetrator will deny everything. But he will think twice about dumping again. Prevention is better than cure.

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