Reporting litter from garbage trucks

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Recently, I followed a garbage truck along Highway 1 for a couple of miles and watched as various pieces of plastic and paper blew out of the truck. Is this occurrence littering and therefore a punishable violation? It seems as if it would be, since I would be cited if trash flew out of my vehicle. If it is a violation, how should it be reported? Why can't trash haulers do a better job of preventing this? Sallie Smith, Aptos A: “'No vehicle transporting garbage, swill, used cans or bottles, wastepapers, waste cardboard, ashes, refuse, trash, or rubbish, or any noisome, nauseous, or offensive matter, or anything being transported for disposal or recycling shall be driven or moved upon any highway unless the load is totally covered in a manner that will prevent the load or any part of the load from spilling or falling from the vehicle,'” said Officer Sarah Jackson of the California Highway Patrol while siting California Vehicle Code section 23115a. While trash collection companies use truck design to try to keep garbage inside, some non-bagged items do blow out, Jackson continued. When you see a garbage truck with litter blowing out, you have three options, said Jackson.
  • Call the CHP non-emergency dispatch number at 796-2100 for officers to issue a citation;
  • Call the waste management company to “voice your displeasure;”
  • Contact Caltrans' Adopt-A-Highway program at (805) 542-4755 or about getting out there to help keep our highways clean.
“She can choose one or a combination of all three,” Jackson said. Meanwhile, Jackson offered a bit of trivia: The two things the California Vehicle Code allows to fall onto the roadway are clear water and feathers from live birds, she said. Bay reservoir replacement project on Cardiff Place Work begins today, Monday, Feb. 11, to build a water tank and associated infrastructure at the Bay Reservoir Site on Cardiff Place in Santa Cruz. The project is expected to last six weeks. Gateway Pacific Construction, Inc. will perform the work for the city's water department. The work includes installing water transmission mains the road there. Today's task involves excavating for the installation of the underground pipelines. During work hours, through traffic will be off limits along Cardiff Place between Iowa Drive and Cardiff Court. It will reopen to two-way traffic at the end of each day. Bay Drive and High Street are suitable detours. Residents inside the closure area will be allowed access at all times, as needed. Crews will try to keep construction disturbance to a minimum but area residents may experience traffic delays, restricted street parking, and increased noise during regular business hours. For information, contact Doug Valby, project engineer, at 420-5212 or
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2 Responses to Reporting litter from garbage trucks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Let me share how this worked out for me. I noticed paper flying about like snow on 85-N and then 280-S in Cupertino. As I drove south, I saw that the source was a garbage truck spewing trash from an apparently uncovered load. So I took down the license plate number and thought I’d trying reporting this when I got home.

    I called the CHP non-emergency number (1-800-TELL-CHP), and the dispatcher tells me that they aren’t responsible for Santa Clara County, just Sacramento, and gives me another number to call. I call the number he gave me – (707) 555-4100 – and then realize it’s — wait for it — the number of directory assistance. Yep, CHP Sacramento referred me to directory assistance to find the number of CHP Santa Clara. What a waste of my time and our tax money.

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