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Private security ‘stakeout’ targets Bayview illegal dumping

San Francisco is exploring new ways to discourage residents and businesses from dumping materials illegally on the street, especially in the hard-hit Bayview neighborhood.

District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents the Bayview — the neighborhood with highest concentration of SF 311 service calls for illegal dumping — held a hearing on the issue last week at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Service Committee.

Walton said:

“It is so important that we came up with enforcement strategies as well as work with the community to change behaviors.”

About 12 percent of calls came from District 10 to SF 311 for crews to pick up abandon materials from January 2018 to February 2019.

Illegal dumping costs The City $10 million a year, according to the Department of Public Works.

Larry Stringer, deputy director of operations with Public Works said:

“Illegal dumping is a huge problem in San Francisco… It is extremely at its worst in the Bayview.”

Three major reasons why illegal dumping is problematic in The City are insufficient garbage service, construction debris, and residents moving out.

Stringer said the department has tried numerous strategies to combat illegal dumping over the last several years, but none have stopped the problem.

One of the new strategies the department is working is asking residents and businesses to agree to put up surveillance cameras to catch people illegally dumping.

Stringer said 15 businesses and residents said they would be interested in installing cameras, but for now, they would have to pay for the cameras out of their own pocket.

The City may require contractors to provide a receipt to show they dumped the debris and materials properly as part of the work permit condition with the Department of Building Inspection, Stringer said.

Public Works is also exploring a law in Los Angeles and Philadelphia where cities can seize vehicles that people used to illegally dump the items.

Stringer said he will be heading to Los Angeles to learn more about their law and that hopefully The City can do a similar law.

Paul Giusti, community and government affairs manager at Recology, said one unique way to catch people in act was to use Recology’s private security firm to go undercover. The firm provides security for the Recology site.

Since the firm had a contract with Recology already, Giusti said they asked the firm to do a side job of investigating illegal dumping hotpots in the Bayview:

“We said hey, could you do a stakeout for us and see what’s going on? Who’s doing the dumping? How much is it? What does it look like?”

He added:

“They did the literal car with the blacked-out windows and staked out a couple of locations in the Bayview, and sure enough, they didn’t have to wait long for folks coming and dumping.”

Walton expressed interest in continuing to have investigators out to catch people dumping materials illegally.

While there no future plans for more undercover work, Giusti said he will continue to work with Public Works, Walton’s office and with police.

Walton said he is looking into possible legislation to increase illegal dumping fines, reposses vehicles, and taking away businesses licenses from people who get caught:

“We’re going to be working hard to aggressively address this.”

Anyone caught illegal dumping in The City can face up to a $1,000 fine.

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