SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Throughout some parts of Santa Clara County you may have come across trash and debris around state highways and on some streets abandoned vehicles left behind. 

Local and state leaders are continuing efforts to ensure cities within the county keep any unnecessary litter off public roadways. 

“When it comes to litter, it’s not as simple as it sounds,” said Senator Dave Cortese, who represents State Senate District 15, which include Santa Clara County and other nearby cities.

“But the sources of that pollution and those problems are many and the resources to do the clean ups sometimes are few.”

Senator Cortese has helped secure $2 million to assist local governments in Santa Clara with the removal of trash and debris from local streets and along state highways. 

Over a week ago the State Legislature passed the Budget Act of 2021, which included Senator Cortese’s proposal under the Santa Clara County Consumer & Environment Protection Agency (CEPA), that collaborates with the county’s 15 cities to identify and prioritize beatification areas and litter abatement opportunities. 

“You can tell by driving down most highway or freeway corridors in the Bay Area, you almost have to keep your eye on the road to avoid hitting something, plastic containers, wood that falls off trucks, we’re all encountering this kind of debris,” said Cortese. 

“I think part of the solution long-term is going to be to get Caltrans some resources to make sure that they have more than two maintenance people for the entire county.”

Back in 1991, the county established a new program aimed to remove abandoned vehicles.  

The Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Service Authority (AVASA) program was created to provide law and code enforcement agencies with resources to facilitate the proper removal and disposal of abandoned vehicles. 

The city of San Jose reports it received over 52,600 vehicle abatement service requests from 2019 to 2020, regarding unsafe conditions related to abandoned vehicles on both public and private property. 

In 2011, the City Council adopted a resolution to extend the AVASA program through April 30 of this year. 

And just over a week ago San Jose leaders extended the program through the next decade. 

“I come through the Alum Rock area and the McKee Road area every day, I mention the interchange between McKee and Capitol, it’s a horrendous mess most of the time,” said Cortese.

“I believe it defeats the morale of our youth when they grow up in a place that they see that is littered up and they go to a neighboring community and they see it very clean, it perpetuates stereotypes that we have two different classes of people,” Cortese added. 

“It’s a very oppressive feeling, so yeah it’s just litter but it can be a lot more complex than a two-syllable word.”

To help the city fund the AVASA program, a one-dollar vehicle registration fee will be collected by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).