DPW Launches Campaign to End Illegal Dumping


For Immediate Release                                                      

November 17, 2010
Contact: (415) 554-6931

‘Don’t Leave it on the Sidewalk’ Campaign Begins in the City’s Bayview Neighborhood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Department of Public Works (DPW) launched a campaign today to end illegal dumping in San Francisco, a practice that costs the city millions of taxpayer dollars every year. The campaign educates the public about the adverse financial, environmental and social costs of illegal dumping on San Francisco’s sidewalks and streets.

“Illegal dumping costs millions in taxpayer dollars every year,” said Mayor Newsom. “We have made good progress to keep our streets and sidewalks clean, and working together with our communities and through these innovative efforts, we can do even more to save taxpayer dollars.”

The department, in partnership with Recology and SF Environment, is taking a two-pronged approach to tackle this problem.

  • The department will educate the public that leaving bulky items, such as couches and mattresses, garbage bags, or any debris on city sidewalks is illegal and costly. The campaign will provide the public with information about quick, easy and free ways to dispose of bulky items and provide information about legally-required refuse service and mandatory recycling. This first prong of the campaign will not only reduce the amount of garbage on our streets and sidewalks, but will also lead to higher landfill diversion through recycling and reuse, which happens when items are properly disposed of. 
  • The campaign will also encourage residents to report large scale illegal dumping activity when they see it.  This type of dumping is often large amounts of construction and sometimes toxic materials. They are dumped in light industrial areas and at dead end streets, in many cases near our waterways in the city’s southeast neighborhoods. Information can lead to arrests and convictions.

“DPW is diverting a lot of time, money and resources in order to rid our streets and sidewalks of illegally dumped materials. The investment we make by educating the public and by encouraging community involvement will help prevent this activity and enable us to focus on our general cleaning responsibilities across the city,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of Public Works.

As part of its community involvement strategy, DPW is taking a grassroots approach by partnering with the Bayview’s United Father’s Coalition and other neighborhood churches, groups and stakeholders who will go door to door to educate the community. 
“UFC is partnering with the Department of Public Works to decrease illegal sidewalk dumping in our Bayview neighborhood,” said Charles Grays, Executive Director of the United Fathers Coalition. “We want to ensure that the community knows about the free and convenient ways available to them to get rid of old junk, and to understand how sidewalk dumping negatively affects our community.”

The department will send mailers, make public service announcements, and post hundreds of trilingual ‘no dumping’ signage.

Citywide, DPW receives approximately 17,000 reports of illegal dumping from constituents, and consequently hauls off nearly 10,000 tons of garbage and debris, costing taxpayers more than $4 million every year. Most of the complaints are due to illegal sidewalk dumping. DPW launched this campaign to engage the public to correct the misconception that the City picks up large items left out on the curb as a free city service.  DPW wants to discourage the popular practice of leaving large items on the sidewalk with an attached “FREE” sign. Those items are often not picked up by others, but are collected by DPW after complaints from neighbors.

The campaign emphasizes free and low cost alternatives that residents and businesses can use to get rid of their bulky items, most notably the City’s Ecofinder guide at www.sfenvironment.org.  It educates people of their obligation to ensure anyone they hire to dispose of their property, such as waste haulers, must do so legally.

“Sidewalk dumping degrades our neighborhoods and often leads to problems people did not anticipate when they left their old items out on the sidewalk,” said Mohammed Nuru, Deputy Director for Operations at DPW. “There are practical methods to donate or dispose of large items that are low cost or free. Proper disposal benefits the environment, keeps the streets beautiful, and saves taxpayer dollars.”

The absence of garbage service is a major contributing factor in the chronic issues of illegal dumping in the City. Although the City requires all properties to have refuse service, many do not, which can lead to illegal dumping on sidewalks. DPW recently identified 324 properties during its early morning Spruce Up by Sun Up that had no garbage service and worked with the Department of Public Health to establish service at those properties.

DPW recently applied for a $350,000 grant from the State’s Solid Waste Disposal Cleanup Trust Fund to clean up 25 chronic illegal dumping spots in the City’s Southeast neighborhoods. The grant will be used on cleanup efforts and to develop a program to keep the sites free of illegal dumping. 

"Illegal dumping is a human health hazard.  The people who are dumping garbage and hazardous materials on our streets are environmentally insensitive and costing taxpayer precious resources to clean up the garbage they leave on the streets.  Educating people on the many ways they can dispose of their garbage, will help prevent the tons of debris that is dumped illegally in the Bayview and throughout the City every day,” said Supervisor Maxwell. 

DPW is also addressing the more egregious (large-scale) instances of illegal dumping that have been occurring in the Bayview by working with neighborhood groups to encourage them to be aware of potential illegal dumping and to report any pertinent information to the police.  DPW is working closely with the Police Department, whose officers are investigating the incidents that have occurred over the past several months. The Office of the City Attorney is also involved with tracking down the responsible parties and recovering costs.

"When toxic and hazardous materials are dumped on our streets it is not only unsightly, but it is a public safety issue. Bayview Station is investigating and working to develop new information that will bring people who engage in large illegal dumping activity to justice,” said Bayview Police Captain Greg Suhr.