On March 21, the San Joaquin Public Works Department temporarily shut down public access to the self-haul operations at Lovelace Road Transfer Station and North County Recycling Center and Landfill sites due to a local Public Health “Stay at Home” Order as COVID-19 spread throughout the County.
The Lovelace and North County sites will remain closed to the public until county officials deem them safe to reopen without threat to the workers and visitors to those sites. In the meantime, the County’s Foothill Sanitary Landfill in Linden and the privately operated Tracy Material Recovery & Solid Waste Transfer Facility will stay open to general public use for self-haul, including most agricultural-related items.
With mounting evidence that asymptomatic people could still be carriers of COVID-19, the threat is even greater for sanitation workers who have courageously remained on those job sites to accept commercial garbage deemed essential and where automation limits human contact and contamination spread. It’s important to note that only licensed garbage collectors can use the Lovelace and North County waste sites that are off limits for self-haul.
More importantly, county officials are extremely grateful that business and residential curbside pick-up and processing is continuing uninterrupted amidst the COVID-19 treat. Those trash collections will continue as normal.
“I want to applaud the residents of San Joaquin County for their patience and understanding during this pandemic even though they may endure the inconvenience of taking their unwanted items to another facility,” said Kathy Miller, chair of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. “It is gratifying to see their appreciation of general public health and safety during these uncertain times. The board is working hard to find ways to ease these restrictions as quickly as possible.”
Public Works staff noticed an immediate uptick in residents seeking to gain access to all four waste sites as furloughed workers and families required to stay at home started cleaning up their garages of unwanted household items, furniture and appliances. With two of the facilities closed to the public, some customers initially experienced longer wait times at the Foothill Landfill.
“We keep a careful watch over how operations are running and have implemented several changes to speed up the line at the Foothill Landfill,” said Kris Balaji, the county’s Public Works director. “Above all, we want everyone to remain safe and emphasize that everyone should abide by the public health officer’s order on social distancing to avoid all unnecessary public outings, including avoiding non-essential trips to the dump. If one of our workers or a resident becomes infected at one of our sites, the entire operation would be shut down, and then, what will become of all that household garbage? That may lead to more illegal dumping which is a risk to everyone’s health.”
“While the county fully understands the inconvenience caused by COVID-19, we want to remind residents to be patient during the crisis and make sure their unwanted items get to the proper disposal facility rather than dumped on the side of the road,” said Supervisor Chuck Winn. “Thankfully, illegal dumping reports this year are about the same as previous years, even with the closures.”
Winn noted that illegal dumping is a punishable crime and asks that anyone who sees illegal dumping on county property to report it to County Road Maintenance at (209) 468-3074. Illegal dumping on private property should be reported to law enforcement. However, Supervisor Winn said the county is working on ways to assist property owners with illegal dumping clean-up during the “Stay at Home” Order.
“While illegal dumping on private property is usually a law enforcement issue, in light of the landfill closures due to COVID-19, the board has asked our Public Works Department to explore ways the county can assist with cleanup efforts on private land until the pandemic ends and our landfills can reopen,” Winn concluded.
For additional information, call (209) 468-3066 or visit www.cleansjc.org/reporting-an-issue.html .