Sunnyside illegal dumping cleanup follows FOX 26 report, residents want faster response

Just one day after FOX 26 reported on the illegal dumping occurring in Sunnyside, clean-up crews were spotted Wednesday morning, making significant headway in clearing the area.

FOX 26 spoke with Sunnyside residents who were relieved to see progress, but expressed frustration with the delayed response. Residents say they reported the illegal dumping to the 3-1-1 city service line over a month ago.

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"It shouldn’t take the news to come out, and it shouldn’t be months at a time," said Travis McGee, Civic President for Sunnyside. "We have to pay our taxes every year."

McGee emphasized the need for the community to be a priority despite being a minority area, suggesting if they were expected to clean up themselves, they should be given the equipment to do so.

"They need to make us a priority," McGee said. "I know we are minorities, but they need to make us a priority by now."

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Residents described the severity of the debris, including large items such as a boat, a mattress, furniture, and reports of dumped dead animals.

"It’s illegal, it’s just bad, it’s bad for the neighborhood, it’s bad for the area in general," resident Ernest White lamented about the illegal dumping.

The frustration is heightened by the proximity of a legal dumping site, which some believe is underutilized.

"It’s very stupid," said resident Christopher West, referring to the continued illegal dumping despite the nearby legal dumping option.


Adrian Pickford hinted at the need for enhanced measures to deter illegal activity.

"It may be that we address the penalties and the level of patrol in regards to policing the dumping," Pickford suggested.

The legal dump site is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. As of now, the cleanup efforts have made a significant impact on the once-littered streets of Sunnyside.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rene Schwartz with Solid Waste Management, released the following statement to FOX 26, saying, "The site in question is well known to Solid Waste Management. It’s located next to our depository facility. When folks come after hours and find the facility closed, sometimes they dump their items instead. As such, we receive 3-1-1 reports regularly, and when we receive them, we investigate and clean the site. Due to a storm-related increase in reports to 3-1-1, it has been taking longer than usual to investigate and clean up reported dump sites. As of right now, we have crews working on storm debris operations seven days a week as well as working to collect junk waste, heavy trash, and tree debris for the entire month of June, on top of regular trash and recycling collection routes. SWMD appreciates the public's patience as well as your help in getting out informative and accurate messages to the public."

District D Representative Carolyn Evans-Shabazz released a statement saying, "

Ensuring the Area Remains Clean:

I am actively working with the Solid Waste Management Department, Houston Public Works, and the Houston Police Department to develop a comprehensive strategy to address illegal dumping in District D. This includes increasing enforcement and patrolling efforts to deter future incidents. We are also planning to install surveillance cameras and improve street lighting in targeted areas to enhance security and visibility.

Resident Actions After Reporting to 311:

After residents report illegal dumping to 311, they should also call or email my office with the Service Request (SR) number. This allows us to follow up on the case or send our Hot Team if needed. For larger dumpsites, such as the one on Jutland that requires a grappler truck, we will coordinate with the appropriate city services to ensure proper cleanup. We are also working on a plan to address the depository bottleneck.

Ongoing Concerns:

Illegal dumping is indeed an ongoing concern for me and our district. For the past year, we have allocated funding and worked closely with department leadership to create a proactive strategy to combat this issue. Our efforts are ongoing, and we are committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment for all residents."