State proposes increase in penalties for illegal dumping
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 20, 2022) — Pile after pile of illegally dumped garbage, construction debris, old mattresses and abandoned furniture line the county’s scenic routes from Clayton to Brentwood Marsh Creek, Morgan Territory, Deer Valley and Camino Diablo Roads are among the more familiar sites.
Dumped debris and trash is not only ugly, it’s an environmental nightmare and threatens not only the wildlife and waterways but the economy and quality of life of the entire community.
“In East County alone, the Public Works Department cleans up more than 15-cubic yards of illegally dumped trash each week,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis.
Burgis hopes stiffer penalties and better surveillance will convince dumpers that the recycling and disposal fees are cheaper than the fines.
Recently Burgis and Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) introduced a state bill that would drastically increase the penalties and the pain level for illegal dumping.
AB2374, aimed primarily at commercial offenders will raise the maximum fines from $3000 to $5000 for the first conviction, from $6000 to $10,000 for the second and from $10,000 to $20,000 for the third.
And if money isn’t enough incentive to pay the disposal and recycling fees, illegal dumpers will have to pay for the cleanup and could lose their business license.
But higher penalties alone won’t curb illegal dumping unless the dumpers are caught.
“It’s a question of investing in cameras, license plate readers, and personnel; prosecuting offenders; and educating the public,” Burgis said.
Late last year, the CC Sheriff’s Department received a grant to purchase more surveillance cameras for the area from Marsh Creek/Morgan Territory to Deer Valley and Camino Diablo. The project is currently out to bid.
Residents in the area are fed up with the illegal dumping and have lobbied hard for more cameras.
Morgan Territory resident Kelly McDougall said she and another neighbor were considering sponsoring the cameras on their own. “I’m glad to hear the county is following up on this.”
If you see someone illegally dumping, call the Sheriff’s Office ASAP, 925.646.2441. Without endangering yourself, try to get the license number.
To report existing dump piles, use the Contra Costa Mobile Citizen App which you can download in the App Store.