FRESNO COUNTY – Fresno County has a problem with illegal dumping, so much so that at the latest Board of Supervisors (Board) meeting, the supervisors waived the usual competitive bidding process and contracted with four more non-hazardous waste haulers – for a total number of 10 contractors – to remove illegally dumped materials throughout the county. The Board also doubled the funds allocated for the operation.
Supervisor Brian Pacheco pulled the item from the agenda for discussion at the Nov. 28 Board meeting. He said that in addition to hiring more contractors to deal with the problem, the county must provide adequate funding to ensure contractors can do the job.
“This item was a long time coming,” Pacheco said. “It’s my understanding we spent $1.2 million last year to clean up illegal dumping. This item only allocates $500,00 per year. It is my intent today to double the allocation to $1 million to clean our roads, which is a nuisance for all of our districts, but especially those of us that are in the rural part of the county.”
Fresno County Chief Administrative Officer Paul Nerland informed the Board that because a contract is already in place, amending the contract to include the increased funding – as well as the additional haulers – will not delay the start of the operation.
500 LOCATIONS BACKLOGGED
Steven E. White, the director of the Department of Public Works and Planning, told the Board that increasing the number of vendors is necessary to deal with the magnitude of the problem.
“We have 500 locations backlogged,” White said. “We average about $1,700 a location using one vendor.”
He added, “Anything we can get on this one will be appreciated. Once we turn this machine on, we’ll have 10 vendors.”
White also said the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office is doing the best it can to apprehend the illegal dumpers.
“But you drive the rural roads just outside the metro areas, that’s where all the dumping is at,” said White.
White said when his department receives a call regarding illegal dumping, it must respond immediately or the problem quickly becomes exacerbated.
“Once we get a call, if we don’t do something, all of a sudden that pile grows exponentially,” he said.
He added that the county has paid for license plate cameras to help mitigate the problem. Public Works wants to install cameras in county parks, but White said he is still looking for ways to cover the cost. He said his department is expanding its partnerships with other agencies to help stem the problem but its efforts, to date, have not returned results.
“We’re trying everything we can. Partnering with Caltrans, partnering with the cities. But nothing seems to be working,” White said.
He mentioned that his department routinely finds illegal dumping tied to home improvement projects and renovations.
“We see the sheetrock dumped on the road,” said White. “And these roads are out in the middle of nowhere, so no one is catching them. And there’s not enough law enforcement to go after them.”
Fines for illegal dumping in the county range from $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for a second offense and up to $3,000 for a third offense.