Dear neighbor,

Last year, the Public Works Department received over 17,000 reports of illegal dumping. According to City staff, this is an increase of 34 percent! We’ve all seen the harmful residue of illegal dumping—mattresses blocking the sidewalk, construction debris piled on a corner, or large bags of unknown waste on our roads. Unscrupulous businesses and individuals have treated District 3 and many parts of Oakland as a literal dump.


Maintaining my commitment to economic development and safety last week, I partnered with Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker to bring forward a tough new law that will make it a crime to disrespect our town. The law was passed unanimously by the Public Works Committee and by the City Council.

The Parker/McElhaney Illegal Dumping Ordinance will:
• Make illegal dumping a misdemeanor, meaning these crimes may now be referred to the District Attorney for prosecution
• Impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per day and per incident, plus the costs of abatement
• Make it possible for the City to seize vehicles caught dumping
• Provide for restorative justice solutions, where applicable

Illegal dumping is a threat to public safety, public health and economic prosperity. It is disgusting, disrespectful and downright depressing. Every child deserves to wake up in a beautiful, safe neighborhood. Everyone deserves a decent place to call home. We must do everything we can to protect our town from the destructive effects of dumping.
Now dump this: it is time to stop the trashing of Oakland, to end this destruction of our environment, our neighborhoods, and our economic potential.

You can help.

Report incidents of illegal dumping. Contact the Public Works Agency by clicking here or by phone at 510-615-5566. Your pictures of dumping in progress, license plates numbers of the offenders, or even dumping after the fact can help the City to prosecute illegal dumpers.

With Oakland-Love,
Councilmember Lynette McElhaney

P.S. Please join me and the “D3 Grime Warriors” for a neighborhood clean-up on Saturday, October 19th from 9am-12noon in West Oakland. Contact Casey Farmer for more information.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

5 Responses

  1. R2D2II

    If only Lynette could take seriously the murder and violent crime that many of us think is even more of a problem for Oakland than dumping.

    And the bottom line is that without sufficient law enforcement whatever new laws are written can have no effect. Whether it’s dumping or shooting children.

  2. Gloria

    Unfortunately, the City of Oakland Public Works Department isn’t capable of following up on 10% of the reports, let alone prosecuting anyone. As an early adopter of the website for reporting such problems, I have given up due to lack of attention to the hundreds of reports that I have filed over the last year.

    In my area of 98th Avenue, there has been a burned out, blighted property, covered with graffiti that has remained so for over two years!

    The city lacks the funds, personnel and commitment to fighting low level crime like dumping and graffiti. And they refuse to force large companies like PG&E to maintain their properties by removing graffiti and trash at their sites.

    Even after I found a direct contact at PG&E, the CA utility company has refused to respond to reports, which included photos of their defaced buildings and clean up their properties.

    I’ve thrown in the towel and have come to realize that the City of Oakland, which I call home and love, is broken at all levels of government.

    I haven’t given up on Oakland, but I have given up on Public Works and our city leaders.

  3. Kathleen Harris

    On October 10th I logged onto the City of Oakland website to report illegal dumping- a big pile of construction debris on El Centro near Dimond Park. The next time I went by the spot was October 13th, and it was gone, couldn’t even tell it had ever been there. So something is working….

  4. Erica

    I am happy to see this initiative and would like to know if you also support providing free bulky waste pickups to renters. Currently only homeowners are entitled to a yearly pickup, leaving the nearly 60% of Oakland residents who are renters with no good legal alternative for disposing of mattresses and heavy furniture. (They can ask their landlord but the landlord most likely can’t be bothered or wants to save the pickup for construction/cleaning debris, not “give it away” to the tenant.)

    It’s hard to catch the people who don’t want to do the right thing; it would be more cost effective to help the people who do but currently have no way to.

  5. albert

    My father always used to say there are two ways politicians typically confront a problem. The first is the most difficult, for it requires one to understand an issue, then solve it by providing an answer that has real potential to work. The second, much easier, is to simply pass a new law, trumpet their efforts, then move on to the next issue. It seems you’ve taken the second option here.

    We already have laws in place that address illegal dumping here in Oakland. And a hotline for reporting. Even a smartpone app. The problem, as anyone who would actually like to fix the problem knows, is money for enforcement. Please, Councilwoman McElhaney, tells us what part of the Parker/McElhaney Illegal Dumping Ordinance provides dedicated funding to fight the illegal dumping problem. Either that or stop wasting everyone’s time by passing new laws that will have as little effect on the problem as the laws we already have in place prohibiting this activity.


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