Scottsdale wary of illegal dumping influx from Phoenix

Phoenix Deputy Public Works Director Jesse Duarte said his department is trying to stop illegal dumping, but that effort could prompt scofflaws to motor over to Scottsdale.

Phoenix’s crackdown on illegal dumping has put Scottsdale officials on the alert for scofflaws who decide to drop their rubbish across the cities’ border.

Because Phoenix is cracking down on illegal dumping, Scottsdale officials have said an increase in misplaced trashed could be expected in areas bordering Phoenix.

“It’s a logical assumption to think people that dump trash will come to Scottsdale because we don’t have as much magnification,” said Manuel Castillo, solid waste customer service and outreach manager in Scottsdale.

“I’m sure it’s happening now, but it’s not a huge problem. But if it becomes a huge problem I’m sure we’ll move in the direction of more cameras,” Castillo added.

Phoenix officials have boosted efforts to bust dumpers through camera surveillance of the area’s blind spots.

Though the city has utilized cameras for the last three years to catch illegal dumping in the act, an increased number of cameras and updated technology is allowing officials to catch illegal activity in the act.

Phoenix officials placed throughout the city 32 mobile cameras that can clearly identify license plates and faces- even at night.

Those caught in the act of dumping trash or large items in undesignated locations can face up to $2,500 in fines, which Deputy Public Works Director Jesse Duarte said the department is pushing for in nearly all cases of dumping.

“When we find them, no matter how big or how small the pile is, we make sure we stress the maximum on that fine because we don’t want them to do this,” said Durate.

The cameras are moved to different locations based on citizen reports every 60 to 90 days.

Scottsdale currently gives dumpers a 30 day grace period to clean up trash before taking the case to court.

Currently, Castillo said, a majority of illegally dumped waste in Scottsdale comes from landscapers or contractors with scraps from remodeled homes.

Dumping by residents — who pay for city services — is a rarity, Castillo noted, as bulk trash pick-ups occur on a more regular basis than in Phoenix.

Currently Scottsdale picks up bulk trash items monthly. As part of their fee residents may also take 2,000 pounds of trash to the Salt River Landfill a week.

Though pickup is frequent, Scottsdale also utilizes a small task force to keep the city’s streets and alleys clear of illegal debris.

“We have five reps out there every day and their job is not to cite people, they’re not code enforcement, their job is to educate and investigate. They will get code enforcement and [the police department] involved if they need to,” Castillo said.

As the war on trash continues, residents in some of the Valley’s oldest and most populated areas can expect increased efforts to curb illegal dumping.

Since a camera has been set up in an alley off South Mountain Avenue and Third Street, less than 10 miles from a Phoenix dumping site, multiple incidents have already been recorded and legally pursued.

A Prius loaded to the brim with trash, a couch and a rug was tracked by the surveillance equipment. The three individuals involved with the dumping are now being taken to court by the city.

In a separate incident, a man was filmed bending and blackening out the “no dumping” sign warning of the potential fines for dumping before he ditched his trash. Once the man noticed he was being filmed, he threw a rock at the camera. His face was shot in such clarity officials were able to track the man down. He is now also being taken to court.

“People are just lazy. They have a lot of alternatives to do this but it seems instead of taking this down and dumping it for free, they’re going to get hit with a $2,500 fine for just dropping it here,” said Duarte.

The $2,500 fee, Duarte said, pays for costs to the department to pull a cleaning crew together, pay for transportation expenses and file the paperwork recording the incident.

Before the city utilized cameras, the only dumpers that could be prosecuted were those that left bags and boxes labeled with their direct address.

“We’ve had illegal dumping for many years but what we’re trying to do is catch people in the act, and we’re catching people more and more. We couldn’t catch anybody before because we couldn’t identify where it came from,” said Duarte. “But now, with the technology we have with our camera systems it's making it a lot easier for us.”