California has been a world leader in sustainability efforts, but that hasn’t eliminated the problem of illegal dumping in the state. Illegal dumping in Oakland is a huge problem, just as it is for many cities.

In Los Angeles, the Controller reports that illegal dumping service requests have increased over 450%. In Oakland, the increase has been just at 129%, according to a Fox News Report.

Why Is Illegal Dumping a Problem?

Illegal dumping occurs when someone leaves trash in a place not designated for trash. It’s frustrating to residents and government officials.

According to the Oakland city website, illegal dumping has been a problem for many years. Mercury News reports that the Illegal Dumping Unit responded to over 35,000 service requests for dumped items in the last fiscal year. It’s the number one problem with junk removal in Oakland that is plaguing the city’s Public Works department.

Illegal dumping isn’t just bad for the environment, although that is one complaint. Illegal dumping is an eyesore to the community, devaluing property.

illegal dumping on vacant lot

The rubbish and garbage attract pests and insects. Illegal waste can spread weeds, which is another problem for Californians. Many of the items in an illegal dump are hazardous and non-biodegradable. They may contain chemicals that get into the physical environment, impacting humans, native wildlife, and groundwater. Illegal dumping puts the entire community at risk.

Illegal dumping costs the city money to clean up the spaces, because many times, the illegal dumping sites are owned by the city. It’s an economical and environmental issue that isn’t going to go away without serious intervention.

Why Is Illegal Dumping Increasing?

Illegal dumping is not a recent problem, but it has been on the rise over the past decades.

Some attribute it to a growing population that is more consumer-oriented. After the depression, people learned to reuse items instead of always buying new, but today, we tend to throw stuff away when it gets old and needs to be replaced.

Some people dispose of their trash in the easiest way possible, just leaving it on the street when they move. Others don’t want to pay to dispose the waste. There are also some people who believe the pandemic has exacerbated the problem of illegal dumping.

Some junk companies that offer to haul off trash are unethical. They dump their garbage instead of driving to the Waste Management center and disposing of garbage properly.

What Remedies Has Oakland Tried?

Until 2010, Oakland had litter enforcement officers who monitored illegal dumping and worked to curb the practice. The program was deemed too expensive. Budget cuts eliminated the program, and that was when illegal dumping began increasing.

Now, according to the Oaklandside, Oakland is spending $12 million this fiscal year to fight illegal dumping. The city also wants to put some money toward education and proactive policies that fight illegal dumping. There is also a program in place that rewards citizens who report illegal dumping.

Illegal Dumping Could Cost More in Oakland

Currently, fines for illegal dumping are just $1000. Many officials believe that the fee needs to be raised. The fee was capped in 1968, so it takes a public vote to change the fine.

Oakland Measure RR was on the ballot in November 2020 to amend the city charter to remove the limit of $1000. The referral passed at 58.34%. The City Council is still holding public hearings to determine how much to set the cap at.

oakland city hall

Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at Oakland City Hall

There are concerns that the fines will disproportionately impact people of color. Some believe that the fines need to be set higher to deter bad behavior. Some organizations that haul away a lot of trash pay the fine because it’s less expensive than taking their trash to the proper dump.

What Can Citizens Do About Illegal Dumping?

Oakland residents have more ways to dispose of trash than before. Make sure you aren’t illegal dumping by recycling and taking your waste to the appropriate facilities. Each household gets one free curbside pickup and one free dump drop-off each year.

Renters used to have to contact their landlord or property management company to schedule this pickup, but now they can do this themselves now. Oakland residents can schedule their drop-off or curbside pickup appointments by calling 1-888-WM-Bulky.

More information about the new program is available at You can have up to 4 cubic feet of garbage picked up.

In addition, Oakland recommends that you get a dump receipt from anyone who hauls your garbage away from your home or business. Use permitted haulers for construction materials.

Always find an ethical junk hauler such as Fast Haul! Contact us today to schedule a free quote.

Report illegal dumping by using the OAK311 app on your smartphone or dialing 311 to report it when you see it. Illegal dumping is a problem for everyone, and it will take everyone to work together to clean up the city.

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