Illegal dumping dropped by the road or tossed in a vacant field can be more than just an eyesore, but one Central Valley city is striking back in a big way.
Ripon is a small city in San Joaquin County where crime is low and the streets are clean. Most of the time, anyway.
"We still have some people that dump appliances, mattresses, that type of stuff," Ripon Police Lieutenant Steve Merchant said. "There is a significant cost to the city if they have to then take those items to the appropriate disposal facility.”
Merchant said cracking down on illegal dumping proved difficult, though.
“A lot of times we’re searching for the right laws or the right city ordinance to use," he said. "Now we have a specific solution to deal with illegal dumping in Ripon.”
That solution is an ordinance just passed by the city council that imposes a fine of up to $3,000 for a first offense, jail time, and seizure and impoundment of the vehicle used in the dumping for 30 days.
In San Joaquin County the fines might be less, but the illegal dumping is far worse, according to county Public Works Deputy Director Jim Stone.
“It is a huge problem," Stone said. "We estimate that it costs the county about $1 million a year just to clean up illegal dumping in the county.”
Stone said abandoned vehicles, boats, and just household belongings make for a mountain of trash. He said a phone app called Go Request can help in the cleanup. Users are able to take a picture giving the location of the trash site.
“You don’t have to look up a phone number or figure the right person I need to contact is," he said. "You say what the problem is and the app automatically routes it to the correct person to get it fixed.”