Oakland city leaders on Tuesday launched yet another program to try to fight illegal dumping, a perpetual problem that the city has never been able to solve.
Illegal dumping has been an issue in Oakland at least since the 1990s, when Elihu Harris was mayor, but city officials said on Tuesday that they’re hopeful the new “Oaktown PROUD” campaign will make a difference.
The PROUD name stands for “Prevent & Report Our Unlawful Dumping,” which city leaders is an urgent call to action and encourages and promotes community pride and volunteerism.
The campaign’s strategy for reducing illegal dumping focuses on education, eradication and enforcement.
Among the new and expanded city services are The Oaktown PROUD Student Ambassador program, a pilot effort to get young Oakland residents to tell people about the need to dispose of garbage materials affordably and safely.
A new service is The Environmental Enforcement Officers unit, a new team of civilian investigators who inspect heavy dumping sites, contact suspected dumpers, encourage them to abate blight using available services and refer cases for legal action when necessary.
A third element is the expansion of Garbage Blitz Crews, city cleanup crews who pick up items illegally dumped in known hot spots.
Currently, three crews pick up trash and the City Council provided funding for a fourth crew in the city’s current budget cycle.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday at San Antonio Park at East 19th Street and 16th Avenue where the campaign was launched, Mayor Libby Schaaf said:
“Oaklanders deserve a home to be proud of, and when we work together that’s exactly what we build.”
“Our community has told us loud and clear that they will not stand by while our streets and sidewalks are made dirtier and less safe by illegal dumping. This is a public health issue, a public safety issue, and an equity issue — and that means it’s time for all hands on deck.”
The mayor said:
“I’m proud of the city’s growing commitments and services, but even more I am humbled and inspired by the determination of our residents to take action and be part of the solution.”
City officials said the Oaktown PROUD campaign rollout will grow over the next several months and will be implemented in partnership with the City Council, neighborhood advocates, community-based organizations and businesses.