streetjunk.jpgToday, the Department of Public Works launched a campaign to combat the problem of illegal dumping in SF. In partnership with Recology and SF Environment, the department is educating the public about the adverse financial, environmental, and social costs of dumping on the sidewalks and streets and also encouraging residents to report large scale illegal dumping when they see it.

According to DPW, they receive about 17,000 reports of illegal dumping in the city, haul off nearly 10,000 tons of garbage and debris, costing taxpayers more than $4 million per year. Most complaints are about illegal sidewalk dumping. Those pieces of furniture with “free” sign attached that don’t get picked up for a couple days are eventually cleaned up by DPW. There are free and low cost alternatives to get your items recycled, re-used or disposed of properly. The campaign emphasizes these alternatives, such as using the city’s Ecofinder guide at When it comes to bulk items, Recology will pick up the first 10 items a customer wants to get rid of for free (Ask The Appeal covered this in depth here).

DPW also wants to reach out to people that don’t have the required garbage service. They have identified 324 properties in the city that don’t subscribe to garbage pick-up. The lack of service, they say, leads to illegal dumping on sidewalks.

While people who leave items out for free may not have bad intentions, those who dump materials on a larger scale are of a different class. These offenders go into other neighborhoods, like Bayview, and drop toxic and hazardous materials on the streets over night. For instance, the 15 to 16 tons of toxic roofing material left on Arelious Walker Drive at Egbert Street in the Bayview District in late October.

“Bayview Station is investigating and working to develop new information that bring people who engage in large illegal dumping activity to justice” said Bayview Police Captain Greg Suhr. DPW recently applied for a $350,000 grant from the State’s Solid Waste Disposal Cleanup Trust Fund to clean up 25 chronic illegal dumping spots in the Southeast neighborhoods of the city.

The outreach campaign will be done in partnership with the United Father Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Bayview. The organization’s mission is to project positive male role models in black communities. According to the founder, Charles Gray, many of the men have noticed the illegal dumping problem and wanted to get involved. The campaign will include door to door visits informing people and businesses of the proper way to dispose of garbage – which is, well, through the garbage company.

“Sidewalk dumping degrades our neighborhoods and often leads to problems people did not anticipate when they left their old items out on the sidewalk,” said Mohammed Nuru, Deputy Director for Operations at DPW. “There are practical methods to donate or dispose of large items that are low cost or free. Proper disposal benefits the environment, keeps the streets beautiful, and saves taxpayer dollars.”

Photo: Streetsblog

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