Hercules Johnson has watched the same cycle over and over again for the 26 years he’s lived in North Sacramento.
Piles of garbage show up on the street or behind the corner store. And before the city can do anything about it, the piles keep growing.
“Once someone puts something there, someone else adds to it more and more,” Johnson said Wednesday morning, sitting in his front yard on Ponderosa Lane. “If they see a pile, they add to it. And when you come home, you have to look at all that trash.”
City officials are attempting to tackle that scourge, especially in North Sacramento, where more than a quarter of the roughly 130 illegal dumping cases opened by code enforcement officers this year have occurred.
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The city is offering $500 rewards for tips leading to citations against individuals responsible for illegal dumping. Rewards of up to $1,000 will be offered in the most egregious cases, those leading to misdemeanor convictions.
“We need our community to be very vigilant,” said Councilman Allen Warren, who represents North Sacramento and helped spearhead the reward program. “We need to take our streets back. This is not a public dumping ground.”
Warren and solid waste crews descended Wednesday morning on Lindley Drive to promote the reward program. A crew cleaned up a large pile of discarded furniture that included two sofas, two chairs and a box spring – all left illegally on the side of the street just a few feet from Johnson’s home.
“This mess should not be in anybody’s neighborhood and there’s this idea that somehow poorer neighborhoods ought to be the place that you dump junk. It’s unfair,” City Manager John Shirey said. “We’re committed to doing something about this problem and we’re willing to pay people to help us clean up this problem.”
City officials urge residents who witness illegal dumping to call 311. Officials are asking for descriptions of those responsible, including license plate numbers. The city also suspects that some private companies are responsible for illegal dumping and have asked for company names displayed on trucks.
“We want people to call,” said Steve Harriman, the city’s integrated waste general manager. “We will follow up on all calls and do an investigation.”
Harriman said residents can call 311 and have large piles of debris picked up from their homes for free by a city crew.
Cameras have been set up near some illegal dumping “hot spots” around the city, Harriman said. The city has also issued an arrest warrant in one severe case of dumping on Dry Creek Road in North Sacramento.
Illegal dumping is prevalent in the neighborhoods on the city’s impoverished north side; on Wednesday, there was a pile of discarded furniture on Altos Avenue and a ragged recliner chair left on Grand Avenue, not far from Grant High School. An abandoned boat sat on the side of Rio Linda Boulevard.
Warren said the problem has created an “emotional drain” on North Sacramento.
“It doesn’t reflect well on our community,” he said.