Zero Tolerance: Cracking Down on Illegal Dumping

By Joy Cooper Hallandale Beach Mayor

February 10, 2022

Illegal dumping has been a chronic issue not just for our city but all communities. When I was first elected, I remember having a long discussion with the then City Manager R J Intindola about what can and cannot be done about the issue. The biggest challenge is catching the perpetrators in the act. This is one of the only ways to truly punish those dumping. The second is the property owners are left with the problem and cost to clean up the mess.

Last month Commissioner Taub and I brought up illegal dumping. We had both received complaints about owners of lots having to pay for pick ups which can cost in excess of $100 dollars depending on the amount of trash that had been dumped. I spoke with an owner of a lot in the Southeast area who had already paid three times for clean ups and already had another to have removed. I also received a letter from an owner complaining about the same issue. In the letter he pointed out about what Miami was doing with raising the fine to $1000 dollars if someone is caught. But once again, that is a big if.

At a previous meeting Com-missioner Taub had shared a video of someone in that act. She stopped the person and told him to stop and got his plate. She then sent it to our police department. We did not get an answer at the time if the person was prosecuted.

During our discussion about the calls and complaints about the issue we agreed, with the support of our colleagues that we would meet and work with staff to develop a better more strategic plan that had more teeth in it. I suggested an award for catching people in action similar to Crime Stoppers. Also offering to work with property owners to put up cameras and not simply giving them a violation. More service and quicker response times. We found out during the meeting that illegal dumping is just that, a crime and criminals can be arrested.

The past month has been a challenge with meeting due to Covid. Commissioner Taub and I had not had a chance to meet with staff yet, which we hope to do soon. After our discussion staff went to work on a draft plan which we received via email. The goal is zero tolerance. There will not be one solution and it will involve multi-departments and our residents to get involved.

The first goal will be to target identified 'hot spots' throughout the city. I know we have all seen them. On a lot I drive by on NE 3rd Street there always seems to have dumping. It is posted but every month there is a pile of furniture or mattresses. To me it seems obvious it is from the rental across the street. Again, without catching them in the act we cannot be certain.

Staff report that due to a lack of staffing resources on code enforcement over the years to address the volume of violations. In 2020 we added an additional code position and hired a new Code Enforcement Official, Mitch Posner. Illegal dumping cases actually doubled in the past years from 72 in 2019 to 157 in 2020 and in 2021 to 379. In December 2021 there were 81 trash cases alone.

In addition to code and residents reporting illegal dumping, our parking enforcement officers are also reporting trash. This is a tremendous help. While it is great that we are doing more and more enforcement for dumping, these calls take resources away from our code enforcement issues.

Staff has also evaluated what are called 'hot spots' like the one I mentioned on 3rd street. To date there are 20 of these spots that have been located, they will be working with the property owners to get it resolved. We are encouraging all our residents and businesses to report cases on our HBapp. The HBapp will be linked to Egov where work order tickets will be generated in a timelier manner. Not only does this help alert staff it will help with response times. The HBapp will also provide us with data to be utilized for performance measures,

The next step will be with prevention. Hallandale PD has initiated a pilot program to help identify and prosecute violators. Interdepartmental coordination will be key. DPW handles pick ups so we will be hiring two more code enforcement officers to focus specifically with sanitation.

There will be a reward program set up based on a percentage of the fine collected. Residents will need to have proof via pictures and video. Property owners who have proof and contact us before the property is sited will not be fined.

Education is also a big component. Staff is developing a robust marketing campaign to get the word out about all the new enhancements to our programs. People need to understand our trash pick-up programs, the cost and risk of illegal dumping and the new reward programs. Marketing will be done in email , FB text and other venues. Let s work to make out city clean and green! If you would like to report a dumpping site, you can contact me at: 954-632-5700

As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City a great place to live, work and play! I am available by phone or text at: (954) 632-5700. E-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Or visit my Facebook and web-site at: www.MayorJoyCooper.com