FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) — Hidden cameras are now helping Fresno crackdown on people illegally dumping.
"We're gonna catch you," says Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias, who represents District 3, which includes the Chinatown District.
Arias says for too long, people have treated Chinatown as a personal dumpsite-- and not just small bags of trash.
"We're talking about mattresses, refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, all the bulk items sanitation won't pick up," he says. "Contractors who are renovating apartments or homes, doing basic renovations. They've been dumping sheetrock."
And, it's been even worse since the coronavirus outbreak.
City crews haven't been able to clear out homeless encampments as fast as they used to, and often those dumped items are left near the encampments.
"The homeless will pick it up and transfer it to a different part of the city," Arias says.
To combat the growing problem, Fresno's Code Enforcement Division installed two hidden cameras, one in Chinatown and one south of it, to catch those illegally dumping in the act.
Officers note license plate information, look up registered addresses, and follow up to issue citations.
Fines range from $1,000 to $10,000 for repeat offenders.
So far, Arias says at least six people have been cited and there have been no repeat offenders.
"It is far more expensive to be fined for illegal dumping than the cost to dispose of this material legally," he says.
He says his district has paid the price for those dumping.
He's had to spend $50,000 in district funds to hire private contractors to haul away large items.
"The more money we spend getting rid of refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and mattresses off the city streets, the less money we have to fix sidewalks and trim trees, which is what neighbors want," he says.
Arias says Code Enforcement is considering placing more cameras in other parts of the city, and hiring more staff to monitor these and follow up.