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Clark County considers illegally dumped items ‘solid waste’

It’s always a little strange to get to the edge of the developed Las Vegas Valley and see the empty desert stretching off into the distance. It becomes even more strange when you find a discarded couch, personal watercraft or a boat resting in the parched sand and gravel.

Illegal dumping is a big problem in the valley. Jason Allswang, chief of code enforcement for Clark County, said that it falls into the department’s abatement budget that includes nuisances ranging from weed removal to demolishing problem buildings.

“We budget $400,000 annually for abatement, and it can run as high as $450,000 in actual costs,” he said.

“Assuming the item has no value and no charitable organization wants it, the proper method of disposal of large items is to check to see if Republic Services will pick it up with the regular trash,” Allswang said. “If not, the owner of the large item needs to take it to a transfer station or to a landfill.”

Republic Services can be reached at republicservices.com or by calling 702-735-5151.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department doesn’t typically get involved in illegal dumping cases, deferring instead to Clark County Code Enforcement.

If you see the dumping happening in unincorporated Clark County, Allswang said it is helpful to get a description of the person doing it or the license plate number of the vehicle and to pass it along to code enforcement by calling Clark County Public Response at 702-455-4191. The city of Henderson has a similar policy and can be reached at 702-267-3950 or online at tinyurl.com/hedumping.

“Like graffiti, it’s the responsibility of property owners to clean up dumping on private property,” Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. “Dumping on public property gets cleaned up by the jurisdiction involved.”

Typically, code enforcement gets involved when someone reports the dumped items. Then it goes through the nuisance abatement process. Code enforcement will ascertain who the property owner is, and if it’s another agency, it will inform that agency. A large percentage of illegal dumping takes place on Bureau of Land Management land. If it’s a private owner, that owner is held responsible for the trash removal.

“We declare the material solid waste and a nuisance,” Allswang said. “We notify the owner that they can remove it, or we can have it removed for them. If we have it removed, we’ll lien the property for the cost of hiring a contractor for doing the work. The property owner can become a monetary victim, and it can hit their pocketbook pretty bad.”

This is among the reasons property owners fence off empty lots.

In the case of a dumped boat or motor vehicle, finding the owner is often easy, due to serial numbers or registration numbers, but they are rarely cited for the dumping.

“Proving that the owner dumped it can be difficult,” Allswang said. “Just because it’s someone’s boat, that doesn’t mean they did the dumping.”

The county has an ongoing campaign called Keep Clark County Clean that addresses illegal dumping. Information about the program can be found at tinyurl.com/kccclean. If people see a dump site and aren’t sure of the jurisdiction, they can report it to the Southern Nevada Health District at 702-759-0600.

— To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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