Just before the sun started to come up on September 16, the team codenamed Waste Busters gathered at the corner of Jardin Rd. and 13th St. in the desert just off of Southern Blvd. to contribute their part to the Mayor’s Rally in the Desert Clean-Up Day.
The lead of the team, Tom Camacho, brought coffee and homemade burritos to get the team started on a “monsterous” pile up of trash.
“We’re here because it is a mess. These people have been dumping stuff out here and we just want to clean it up. We want to make it look beautiful like it was,” Camacho said.
Most of the material dumped at that location was construction material like concrete, roof shingles, plywood and other trash. There were a few mattresses and christmas decorations as well.
“It costs five bucks to take a whole truckload out to the dump. So don’t be lazy,” Camacho says to people who partake in illegal dumping.
Camacho lives nearby Jardin and 13th but runs in the mornings. That is how he discovered the mass amounts of trash strewn all over the mesa.
He decided to ask the city for help and made those cross streets a location for the rally.
While he wishes the people who illegally dump would be punished, Mayor Gregg Hull says its not that simple. People who clean up after illegal dumpers can alter evidence just by touching the trash that is discarded. Police cannot use it as evidence and can’t get probable cause without proof.
Hull adds that there is no way to prove the illegal dumping was a specific person without video or photo evidence. He encouraged Camacho to record if he sees illegal dumping in action but asked him to be careful.
About halfway through the clean-up, Hull came with his pickup truck to help with some of the mattresses and unloading into the dumpster.
While the group was cleaning up the site, some newspapers were discovered that were dated as far back as 2011. Camacho assumes that the trash had been there just as long.
Another clean-up crew member, Denise Wong, was outraged by the mess.
“I want to talk to these people and say you know it’s wrong,” she said.
She added that the group was able to clean-up quite a bit in just a couple of hours and it shouldn’t be beyond people to do the same.
Groups participated all over the city and tackled litter along the roads as well as garbage dumps on the mesa like the Waste Busters.
Camacho estimates in their dumpster alone, there was at least five or six tons of garbage.