The San Benito County Board of Supervisors at the latest meeting initiated efforts to significantly strengthen the county’s illegal dumping ordinance to deter those activities.
Supervisor Dom Zanger and I had requested this formal consideration, and I have been pushing for more action with regard to illegal dumping since I joined the board in 2021.
As a first step, supervisors June 27 approved moving ahead on necessary steps to significantly increase illegal dumping fines in the unincorporated county.
Currently, the fines range from $100 to $500, which doesn’t do anything to deter illegal dumping. The recommendation approved by the board in late June was to start the necessary process to set the new fines at a range of $2,500 to $10,000. That new range for fines would replicate the fine structure in other areas such as San Jose.
I made the motion to move forward with the process to establish this new fine structure, and Supervisor Zanger seconded that motion leading to a 4-1 vote in support. Chairwoman Sotelo dissented while noting she wanted to coordinate with the two cities before moving ahead. Considering how long it has taken to get moving on this, I did not want to wait any longer to start the process of increasing the fine structure.
Of course, substantially increasing fines won’t solve the problem altogether.
As for other efforts to curb illegal dumping, county officials discussed placing more signs warning residents of fines for illegal dumping. Supervisors provided feedback supportive of installing cameras in strategic locations to curb illegal dumping with consideration for equipment that includes license plate capture abilities. When I spoke, I emphasized that decision makers should act boldly when it comes to the number of signs and cameras, and place them in strategic locations in order to really send a message that the county will no longer put up with this unacceptable behavior.
Additionally, staff officials and supervisors broached the prospect of granting certain county personnel with related enforcement authorities even if they are not peace officers, and staff members with Integrated Waste Management mentioned an illegal dumping tracking app that is in the works.
Supervisors expressed initial support for all of these ideas on top of the increased fines, and I eagerly await a subsequent discussion where the board will give further direction on these strategies. In response to the agenda request from Zanger and myself, Integrated Waste officials made the presentation in June while offering ideas such as the fine hike, high-tech cameras, more signs and the tracking app.
Integrated Waste officials also noted there will be an organized cleanup effort in late July or early August on Salinas Road, one of the most targeted areas in the county for illegal dumping. I was glad to hear this because I have been pushing for more attention to Salinas Road for quite some time due to the many complaints I receive from constituents.
This has been a major priority of mine as a supervisor, and I’m glad to see these efforts finally moving forward.
Kollin Kosmicki is the Supervisor for San Benito County District 2.