LODI (CBS13) – Grape grower Bill Stoke’s family has been farming the fields in San Joaquin County for three generations and now he increasingly finds himself trying to fend off a different kind of pest.
“You have to absolutely see them in the act dumping it or there’s not much law enforcement can do or will do,” Bill said.
He finds piles of trash on his property and along the side of the road nearly each week.
“There are abandoned automobiles, an abandoned boat, abandoned refrigerators, anything you can think of that the county dump can take seems to end up in a vineyard or a field or somewhere along side of road,” he said.
Plus, he’s stuck paying to clean up after the drive by dumping.
“Unfortunately if it’s on private property, property owners have to pay the expense of getting rid of it,” said Jim Stone with San Joaquin County County Public Works.
It not only cost farmers a ton, but it cost taxpayers $1 million to pick up junk on the side of county roads, money better spent elsewhere.
“That’s more than we spend right now cleaning out ditches. That’s more than we spend mowing the shoulders of the roads,” he said.
The county funds a full-time team to pick up the illegally dumped items left on the side of the road on county land.
“We have over 1600 roads in the county and a lot of that is very remote, so it’s hard to be everywhere at the same time,” Stone said.
But Bill believes law enforcement should do more to crack down on the crime, but that’s tough to do.
“If they would have stricter enforcement on the people that are doing the dumping when they are caught, it may eliminate part of the problem or subsidize The cost for people who can’t afford to dump,” Bill suggested.
The county already takes appliances and has three landfill locations throughout the area. Plus, the landfill it’s only $11 to dump a pickup truck load of your own stuff, but for the county and these farmers it’s costing everyone now far more.
If you get caught dumping, your 1st offense is $238, 2nd offense $525, and 3rd offense up to $1,000 in fines and possible jail time.