OAKLAND (KPIX) – Oakland is turning to high-resolution cameras to try to solve the huge problem of illegal dumping. Public Works hopes the cameras will give them the evidence they need to ticket and deter repeat offenders.
Each camera system is mounted high on a lamp post. Each camera system has multiple lenses pointing in different directions.
The city installed 10 cameras at known illegal dumping hotspots in East and West Oakland.
“Some people don’t call it Oakland anymore, they call it ‘trash,'” Councilman Noel Gallo said Friday when introducing the surveillance technology.
“First, you are harming the environment. Second, (you) make people feel unsafe,” said Paige Din, a fifth-grade student who attends the Community School for Creative Education at the corner of International Boulevard and 21st Avenue. .
The 11-year-old student was familiar with fly tipping. She said debris blocked some of the sidewalks on the way to her charter school.
“I’ve seen mattresses pile up, sofas and other things that people just don’t want. They just throw it out there,” Din said. “People hurt me and not just me but everyone else.”
The charter school’s founder and executive director, Dr. Ida Oberman, said one alley — Solano Way near 21st Avenue where students are dropped off and picked up — is a hotspot for illegal dumping.
“There would be three mattresses here, a broken stroller overturned, broken chairs with their legs up, big garbage bags that are sometimes dropped by restaurants and then on the floor are condoms and syringes,” said Dr. Oberman.
She said the school only took the trash out to find more days later.
Oakland Public Works spokesman Sean Maher said workers picked up nearly 15 million pounds of trash from city streets last fiscal year.
That’s why the ministry turns to the cameras to catch people in the act. Public Works has six environmental enforcement officers who will investigate, review surveillance footage and fine people up to $1,000 a day.
One of the 10 cameras is located at the corner of Solano Way and 21st Avenue. The city said it would rotate cameras among 25 known hotspots.
“You know where this one is today, but we won’t tell you where the other nine are going,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said.
“These cameras will be useful. Ten isn’t enough, but it’s a good start,” Councilman Gallo said.
Some people wondered how the city would enforce and prosecute violators.
Even before the cameras were installed, the city said it had issued 1,399 tickets to people caught illegally littering since July 2020. So far, only 296 tickets have been paid.
For people who don’t pay, the city said outstanding tickets will eventually go to collection agencies.
“No camera is turnkey, but a camera is an incredibly valuable strategic step,” Dr. Oberman said.
This pilot camera program will last six months. If successful, the Public Works Department will ask City Council to approve and fund more cameras.
Public Works said Oakland police can review footage if cameras pick up things like shootings and homicides.