Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Councilmembers faced a townhall meeting of hundreds of angry East Oakland residents this week demanding that the city take action to clean up mountains of trash in flatland neighborhoods that are becoming centers of a growing public health crisis.
The meeting, held Monday evening at St. Anthony’s school gym in East Oakland, was organized by the East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods.
Mayor Schaaf was harshly criticized at the meeting for neglecting “basic priorities” like safe and sanitary streets.
On the other hand, District 5 City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who holds a neighborhood cleanup in the Fruitvale District every weekend, was applauded.
“Last Sunday, I picked up 105 drug needles and 15 dead rats,” Gallo said, promising to support spending more money on clean streets.
“These are toxic conditions, increasing danger of disease, and they are getting worse,” said Gallo in an interview with the Oakland Post.
“The reality is that I have created many policies and ordinances to deal with illegal dumping, but the issue is enforcement. The city attorney and the district attorney do not follow up, or it takes six months to do it,” he said.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said she supports spending more on trash pickup, backing the hiring of more illegal dumping crews and inspectors.
Councilmember Abel Guillen told the townhall he would advocate for another illegal dumping cleanup crew next month when budget revisions are made.
Councilmember Dan Kalb said he supports adding public works crew but is unsure how much money will be available to expand city services.
Said Congress leader Andre Spearman, who resides in City Council District 5, “We want action, not talk. We call on the mayor and city council to take leadership and make this a priority. It is depressing to see trash everywhere and it sends a message to children, adults and visitors that Oakland has been abandoned and the City doesn’t care!”