Over the last five months, constituents have expressed their frustration with the growing amount of litter and homeless encampments in the city, especially on highway on-ramps, overpasses, and highway sound walls. Further, the lack of vegetation maintenance around encampments creates hazardous fire conditions for the unhoused community as well as surrounding neighborhoods. I too am frustrated and concerned about these issues.
This week, the City Council received an update from City staff about our growing trash problem. The City has deployed staff from multiple departments to tackle trash pick-up within the city limits. As you can imagine, this current process is much more expensive than our weekly residential trash pick-up service. Staff is working on a plan to provide more systematic and cost-effective trash pick-up services to identified encampment sites. In addition, the Beautify SJ team, Downtown Streets Team, and Homeless Outreach team are all distributing trash bags to unhoused residents. Staff are also re-launching the "Trash for Cash" pilot program that offers homeless residents $4 Visa gift cards in exchange for trash bags. Despite these actions, there is still clearly a lot of work to do.
Although the City does not clean freeways and onramps, I and my colleagues Councilmember's Khamis, Foley, Peralez and Esparza have proposed that staff develop an agreement with Caltrans that would allow the City to remove blight and brush on Caltrans-owned property within City limits in exchange for cost reimbursement. Staff has agreed to explore this option and will report back to us in two weeks.
I know none of this is satisfactory. Every single member of the City Council, including the Mayor and myself, have expressed the same frustration with the monumental levels of trash that we are seeing. We have made this priority clear to City staff, and we will continue to press on this issue.
See the full presentation and my comments here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7OeTDPoOoU&feature=youtu.be&t=2684
Please contact the D6 office directly at email@example.com or 408-535-4906 with any concerns or questions.