Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday approved a pilot program to reduce trash scavenging in the Fig Garden area by having Fresno County sheriff’s deputies patrol for it.
The plan is to focus on an area with many reports of trash scavenging, said Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, who represents the Fig Garden community.
The pilot program, which covers a portion of the neighborhood, passed 5-0.
Borgeas said it’s unclear whether trash placed at the curb remains the property of a homeowner. The program establishes an infraction but doesn’t establish the trash as property of the homeowner, he said.
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If there are additional costs for enforcement, it would be paid by residents in the Fig Garden Policing District, where sheriff’s deputies patrol the county island surrounded by the city of Fresno. And if the program is successful, it could be expanded to other county areas, officials said.
No residents spoke in front of supervisors. But in a letter to supervisors, Dan Gallagher, president of the Fig Garden Home Owners Association, called the program “a positive step in addressing a problem that plagues the entire county.”
Gallagher added that he thinks the pilot program will “protect our neighborhood and reduce our exposure to identity theft.”
Sheriff Margaret Mims said no correlation has been made between identity theft and scavenging.
“It’s always a concern that people can get identifying information out of people’s garbage,” Mims said.
Let’s have no illusions, this will not be a priority issue for our deputy sheriffs, just another legal tool.
Supervisor Andreas Borgeas discussing Fig Garden scavenging pilot program
She said deputies can interview scavengers and learn whether they are recycling or potential identity thieves.
A penalty has not been established for the infraction, which will include fines. County Counsel Dan Cederborg suggested a penalty schedule be listed for a second reading of the ordinance in the coming weeks.
The pilot program will last a year and supervisors will return in nine months to evaluate whether the program is worth continuing.
Supervisor Debbie Poochigian said she was concerned that establishing the program in Fig Garden will push the problem into the surrounding city area.
She also said she was worried about turning highly trained deputies into “garbage police.”
“They are paid to do a lot of dangerous, important things,” she said.
Borgeas assured her that tracking down scavengers wasn’t going to be of the highest importance for deputies.
“Let’s have no illusions,” he said, “this will not be a priority issue for our deputy sheriffs, just another legal tool.”