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Oakland has added a fourth crew tasked with cleaning up illegal dumping on the city’s streets, an increasing problem in the past 10 years, city officials said this week.

Oakland Public Works crews now make more than 30,000 trash pickups each year, nearly triple the amount just a decade ago.

Since March though, city officials added a fourth team to what are called the Garbage Blitz Crews, giving the city one crew for each of four cleanup zones in Oakland.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed excitement about building back better following the COVID-19 pandemic and she encouraged everyone to participate.

“It will take everyone playing their part to create a cleaner, healthier home for all of us,” Schaaf said in a statement.

She expressed her thanks to the crews doing the work.

Fifteen people are now part of the four crews, which are tasked with proactively cleaning up hot spots rather than waiting for residents to report the dumping.

A pickup truck loaded with trash arrives at a city-sanctioned drop-off location during a 2018 Bulky Block Party. The events were discontinued last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Oakland plans to resume them soon. (Photo courtesy of city of Oakland/Facebook)

A pilot program launched in 2018 targeted City Council District 6, a portion of East Oakland, and showed promising results with less new dumping over time in areas that were cleaned regularly, according to city officials.

City Councilmember Treva Reid, who represents another part of East Oakland, said, “I am so excited about the expansion of the city’s new Garbage Blitz Crews. I look forward to realizing the full benefit of this much needed resource in District 7.”

Increased dumping in Oakland started shortly after city resources were cut in The Great Recession. Now, city and regional leaders, as well as community advocates and Oakland Public Works officials are aiming to restore those services and improve them.

Separately, city officials are getting ready to announce the restoration of Bulky Block Party events, which allow residents to dispose of large items for free at a specific site.

Bulky Block Party events were canceled last year when Alameda County health officials issued the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.