BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — 53-year-old Aurelio Guerra, says he has lived in the neighborhood off of Pacific Street in East Bakersfield for the past five years. He adds that illegal dumping here has been an ongoing problem.
"For the love of God take it somewhere else, there is a dump site not too far from here," Guerra said. "This isn't a dumping ground."
Guerra explains at times he wakes up to trash in his yard. He says he is grateful for the removal of the illegal dumping by the Rapid crew.
"They have been doing a good job and they have told me 'we are going to come in this week and clean it all up'," Guerra said. "Then after they clean, about a week later you got trash again, but they have been coming by at least once a month."
The Kern County Public Works office, for the past two years, has implemented its Rapid crew of five. Its purpose is to solely focus on illegal dumping throughout Kern County.
Just in 2020, they have allotted a new daily task to address the continuous littering.
"Now we have a scout that goes throughout the county as well, looking for spots we haven't received complaints on," said Heidi Carter-Escudero, of Kern County Public Works.
Kern County Public Works says they want the community to understand the boundaries that the crew faces.
Legally, the team can only address areas that fall within county public right aways. This includes sidewalks, alleyways and other property owned by the county.
If there is dumping on private property there are other steps they must take.
"If it's on the private property, that's fully within the private property we then have to go through our code compliance, to get the property owner to clean up their property," said Carter-Escudero.
"If the property owner doesn't respond then we can come in with our Rapid crew and it takes about two-to-three months to clean up private property. Then we send that property owner a bill."
Trash, clothes, needles, and pieces of furniture are just some of the items the Rapid crew sees daily.
Carter-Escudero says that tires and mattresses are the two most popular items they see dumped. In 2019 alone, the crew collected 1200 mattresses from county streets.
"Countywide we have cleaned up nearly 5,000 separate dumps sites last year alone," Carter-Escudero said. "When we talk about the tonnage alone, it's over 800 tons of garbage."
During the time 23ABC followed the Rapid crew, the team came across a homeless encampment. Soon individuals of the encampment began to clean once they saw the crews truck.
The crew says this is also apart of their routine.
"We also work with our code enforcement team and we were able to clean up 124 homeless encampments as well last year," said Carter-Escudero. "Our Rapid team works in conjunction with our homeless outreach as well."
The crew wants to remind residents there are 13 site locations that county residents can dump their unwanted items for free. To see the full list, click here.
Residents even have the option to drop off four tires a year, this only applies to residents who are dumping, not businesses.
The rapid crew wants to encourage the community to address illegal dumping together.
They also recommend neighborhoods to host their own cleanup.
The Kern County Public Works says they will provide free gloves, bags for any community cleanup. Also, they will send a team member to conduct safety training with the group.