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Monday, November 8, 2010

Illegal Dumping is a Big Problem & How to Fight Back

Almost every single day I ride Muni's 18-46th Avenue from the Outer Richmond district to SF State, I find illegally dumped items on sidewalks; in many cases, at the same spot time and time again. For example, I always find some kind of nasty looking treasure on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and Balboa, and the problem has been so rampant in that location, the city put up warning notices on the utility poles saying "NO DUMPING."

Some of the most common things I find is old televisions (the bulky tube TVs) and soiled mattresses. I sometimes find drawers and cabinets, while others are e-waste like computers and monitors.

Dumping items on the street is illegal. Our streets are not places where you can dump your used personal property and it's a free-for-all for people to grab the freebies. Dumping stuff on the streets is a huge eyesore and makes our streets look ugly.

Anyway, nobody wants a used mattress. I don't even want to know what the hell is that stain on it. Do you like a computer? How about one full of someone's personal information and possibly a virus?

I try to do my best as a local citizen to get those illegally dumped items removed. I always give a quick tweet or call to San Francisco 311 so it can be picked-up, but for every time the city has to do it, it comes with a high cost. DPW's clean-up trucks go around the city picking-up illegally dumped items from requests from the general public and whatever they find when they pass by. One time, I called 311 to report a huge TV on the street corner, and due to its size, they have to bring two city employees to remove it because who wants to pay workers comp for a back injury?


Here's some ways to fight back:
  • If you find someone illegally dumping, call the cops: (415) 553-0123.
  • If you find illegally dumped items, call: 311 or (415) 701-2311. You can remain anonymous.
  • Humiliate people who do it: Tape a sign on the illegally dumped item stating: "Illegally dumped, SHAME ON YOU!" You could also post a sign on a nearby lamppost saying: "To those who illegally dump, I know who you are."

How to get rid of large & bulky items (legally):

  • See if a local charity organization is having a pick-up. In my neighborhood, we get a courtesy card every couple of months of a charity asking for donations. Usually, huge items like mattresses are not welcomed, but they may accept large electronic items like TVs and computers.
  • Keep an eye out for drive thru drop-off events in your area. Some of them are available to anyone, regardless of what neighborhood or city you live in. In other cases, you must live in a particular neighborhood to utilize the service. Be aware, there may be certain limitations on what you can drop-off.
  • Goodwill locations are usually happy to accept a lot of items, that is, if you are willing to haul it and carry it yourself.
  • Contact Recology (a.k.a. Sunset Scavenger & Golden Gate) for pickup. If you have trash service in the city, you get free junk removal. The freebie pick-ups depends on the service the company provides (homes, apartments, multi-unit buildings, etc.), but each pick-up can be up to ten items. They can collect all kinds of items, and usually more than what other services will do for you. For more information, click here.

Take action! Keep our city streets looking nice!

1 comment:

MiTEG said...

Thank you! I didn't realize Recology did free curbside pickups. I've got a big broken CRT TV in my garage and was waiting for the next drop-off event.

I live on 19th Ave and the illegal dumping can get pretty bad. Dirty mattresses are by far the worst, but boxes of loose paper are pretty bad too. The wind will blow papers everywhere and DPW won't pick up each individual piece. I had a friend visiting from out of town and was embarrassed as we walked down the street.

I think you can tweet @sf311 and they will respond to illegal dumping complaints.