Gordon Nip has seen illegal landfills in Kern County for decades, and it can still get under his skin.
“I hike a lot in undeveloped areas. Every time I go there I see a pile of trash, old couches and old TVs. People just throw them away and I’m tired of thinking that people would do that in the beautiful scenery, ”he said in a phone interview. “As long as I’ve been here and it’s been 40 years I’ve seen illegal dumping and it’s been pretty horrible.”
The vice chairman of the Sierra Club’s Khankaware branch has been aware of illegal activity for decades, but resolving it has been difficult. These days, this problem seems particularly terrible. Especially along the Khan River Parkway, pedestrians complain that heaps of rubbish are strewn everywhere.
However, at a board meeting on Tuesday, local authorities were able to take the first step towards solving an ongoing problem.
At the meeting, the county public works department proposed increasing land use fees for all apartments in the county to fund illegal dumping cleanups both in the unincorporated area and in the city itself. intend to do something.
The land use fees are paid annually by the property owner to finance waste and recycling facilities and transit stations. The Public Works Department proposes increasing the land use fee from $ 82.89 to $ 105 for properties with 1 to 4 units and from $ 66.30 to $ 84 for properties with 5 or more units.
“This issue is far greater than what current resources can address,” Supervisor Zack Scrivner said at a meeting in January when the issue was first brought up to the board. .. “It’s widespread in the desert and all over the rural areas of the county. I think this is a great conversation we have with our urban partners.”
This increase is expected to generate more than $ 6 million annually and is distributed to the various communities in Kahn based on the percentage of roads maintained in each jurisdiction. Kern County, which accounts for 59.5 percent of the county’s maintained roads, will receive approximately $ 3.8 million from the proposal.
The district then financed five cleaning workers stationed all over Kahn to deal with illegal dumping complaints.
“What we really think is best is just cleaning,” said Craig Pope, public works director in January. “We’re not saying we can’t stop it, but we’ve had little luck slowing it down. What we’re pretty happy with is cleaning up. Is the way we know “
With a crew member assigned to all of Kahn’s non-legal areas, the public works department states that more is needed to address this issue.
Before the meeting on Tuesday, the county sent a notice to 232,104 package owners. If more than 50% of property owners file a written protest, the fee increase will be canceled.
However, the county has received fewer than 400 protests to date, well below the 116,053 required to invalidate the proposal.
The county has also worked with cities to address price increases. The Pope said at a meeting in March that some cities are supportive and others are nervous about raising prices. One that the Pope did not name was “totally against”.
“They liked the idea but said it was just the wrong time to look for an increase in land use,” the Pope said in March.
The public works department did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The City of Bakersfield was neutral on price increases. Spokesman Joe Conroy referred to the city’s initiative to set up a cleanup team funded by public safety and vital services.
The $ 1.5 million Clean City Initiative will send teams to landfills identified in Bakersfield’s mobile app to monitor hotspots.
“As additional funding becomes available from the county or other sources in the future, city officials will evaluate, approve, and add those funds for proper cleaning and waste reduction programs for best use. Instruction to submit such use to the city council, ”Conroy wrote in an email. “The city’s staff believe it is very important for all of us to work together to keep Bakersfield in top shape for both residents and visitors.”
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