Friday, July 24, 2009

The Neverending Garbage

You've got to love Oakland. It is the place that people love to trash...literally. Just take a look around at the streets of Oakland. What do you see? Neverending garbage...literally. Cans, liquor bottles, cigarette boxes, bags of fast food leftovers, condoms, candy wrappers, drug packages, and buckets of human waste. Yes, even human waste. Who dumps all of that stuff--Oaklanders. Young and old, black and white, male and female, renters and property owners--we are all responsible. Oakland provides an equal opportunity for anyone to dump their shit on someone else's doorstep and or in someone else's neighborhood or for some their own doorstep and neighborhood. There is a street corner at Shattuck and 65th that has become a dumping spot for any number of neighborhood slobs and the occasional transient parking and camping. Household garbage, old bookshelves, fast food, liquor bottles, chairs, oil containers and other odds and ends and miscellaneous crap have mysteriously appeared under the cover of darkness. Over the last several years, we have noticed that this location is favored by lazy slobs who can't seem to locate the publicly accessible garbage cans on the corner of Shattuck and Alcatraz to dump their trash.

About 2-1/2 weeks ago another culprit struck dumping household garbage, some dirty pillows, empty milk cartons, and some bags of leftover fast food. We Fight Blight phoned in the illegal dumping to the City of Oakland at 510-434-5101. We were told the City would pick up the garbage within several days. After a week passed, we phoned in again. The City assured us the garbage would be picked up within several days. During this time, cars began to drive over and park on top of the garbage, ignoring the bags of trash and debris. Perhaps the City of Oakland staff were either on furlough due to budget cuts or were in Alaska at an Eskimo Yo Yo making class. No one from the City bothered to pick up the illegally dumped garbage that had been stewing for two weeks. The garbage sat and sat and sat. Surely, We Fight Blight were not the only ones in North Oakland that witnessed this pile of trash sitting for several weeks. Tempted to pick up the garbage, we waited because we wanted to see how long it would take for someone else to step up and clean up the trash. Yet, no one did. The trash festered and stewed. Seemingly oblivious to this pile of trash, people drove by day after day and did nothing. The City did nothing. I wondered whether the City staff were just simply incompetent or lazy. I wondered whether the residents of North Oakland were too busy to care about their neighborhood, apathetic or just blind to the piles of garbage. Frustrated, we donned rubber gloves, collected the trash and deposited it in the City garbage cans at Shattuck and Alcatraz.

No wonder Oakland looks like a big garbage heap. People indiscriminately toss their garbage and illegally dump their trash everywhere. Neither the City nor residents seem to care enough to clean it up. More importantly, there seems to be a certain degree of acceptance that this behavior is okay. When will Oakland have enough respect for itself to stop this neverending garbage?