“Be Nice Don’t Dump”

Be Nice. Don't Dump.

I think I may have tried that exact line with an ex-girlfriend once. If I had known at the time that dumping was illegal, maybe I could have been more persuasive.

No Dumping

More seriously, I think that Broken Windows Theory 101 would dictate that if you are trying to discourage people from treating your semi-vacant lot on Park Boulevard in Oakland as a dumping ground, then it would be prudent to make sure that your “Be Nice Don’t Dump” notice does not itself resemble blight. It would have been only slightly more trouble to make the request look more orderly, and I suspect that if the lot looked more as if anyone actually cared about it, then it would be treated with a bit more respect by potential dumpers.

11 Responses to ““Be Nice Don’t Dump””

  1. Max Allstadt says:

    Regrettably, the only “no dumping” sign I see regularly is under the 980 at 23rd & MLK. It is usually surrounded with dumped stuff, or sometimes, like today, there’s a growing shanty town.

    Cameras and fines, or even mandatory vehicle impounds… I think that’s what it’ll take. That or citizens waiting, watching, confronting…

  2. dc says:

    Max: If I had a magic wand, I would raze most of the freeways that cut up Oakland’s neighborhoods, and turn their rights-of-way into parks instead. They’re like blight magnets, attracting trash and vandalism, but repelling businesses and residents. I’m glad I ride a bike everywhere, because I wouldn’t feel safe walking under any of Oakland’s freeway overpasses after dark. Aside from the dark, desolate underpasses themselves, they also tend to produce dead zones for a couple blocks on either side.

    Given the city’s worsening lack of resources, I think citizens need to pick up a lot of the slack on combatting blight (and crime), as I discussed in more detail at the post I linked to above.

  3. eric says:

    May you find your magic wand! On another topic, I like the way you spell combatting. I have never understood why we spell words like that with one consonant before the -ing. We don’t pronounce them with long vowels, so why spell them so? I always used to write “dialled,” for instance. (Now this little comment box is marked all over with red underlining that I hope will disappear when I click on “Submit Comment.”)

  4. ab says:

    I’ve been tending a neglected vacant lot. Fixing the fence, planting a garden, removing trash, and painting over graffiti. Kinda a shame that the owner doesn’t feel the need to care for his property. Maybe because he only looks at it every couple of years and I have to deal with that eyesore on a daily basis. I’m kinda curious about what will happen when he sees the garden I planted over a year ago. Hope it doesn’t get ripped out 😉

  5. Mike says:

    I live where 580 and 13 come together and this is dumpville because you can get off the freeway, dump a whole lotta stuff and be back on the freeway at high speed in a couple of minutes. There are a dozen freeway exits and entrances within less than a square mile.

    We’ve got a culture here that likes to dump. That likes throwing their shit out in the next person’s space. Even though Alameda County/Waste Management will pick up for free a big pile of trash once a year.

    People who feel shat upon like to be able to shit on someone else, on someone else’s place, or on nature. My neighborhood hauls old motors and water heaters out of a little creek every year.

    It doesn’t make any sense for people to be so into essentially poisoning the world they live in.

    Wait a second, we all drive cars and pump our motor shit into the air and water. We all flush our toilets into the Bay.

    I guess all the illegal dumpers are just like us.

  6. dc says:

    Eric: I never thought that the single/double consonant issue had to do with long vowels. I didn’t think about it when I typed “combatting,” but my rule of thumb has always been that stressed final syllables take a double consonant, while unstressed syllables don’t. Thus: combatting, admitting, referring, and repelling, but picketing, profiting, snickering, and traveling. I’m pretty sure I’ve always written “dialing,” not “dialling.” For whatever it’s worth, the dictionary closest to me includes both “combatting” and “combating,” and the nitpicky usage guide closest to me corroborates my theory about stressed/unstressed final syllables, so I think I’m in the clear. (The number of vowels before the consonant does make a difference, though: compare “embedding” with “beheading.”)

    I had never noticed there was a spell checker in my commenting (not “commentting,” of course, because there are already two consonants there!) form. I guess I’ve just learned to mentally block out those spell-checking systems over the years, since I generally trust my own instincts more than I trust the automated spell checkers. Even my cell phone has a built-in spell checker now!

    ab: That’s great that you’ve informally adopted a vacant lot and turned it into a garden. I’m sure that many of your neighbors are grateful. I hope it flourishes for years to come, in spite of the deadbeat owner! You never know what might happen—one Oakland woman started gardening on a small vacant lot next to her home, and five years later it’s a flourishing urban farm and she has the blessing of the (new) owner of the lot.

    Mike: Amen.

  7. David says:

    ab: you are the real “owner” of that spot. Every spot should have somebody who loves it and looks out for it. Much of the dysfunction that we see comes from absentee ownership and the financialization of property over real connection.

    There is an obvious answer to all of the dumping over Max’s police-state approach (which never really works but leads to many new problems). Put a buy-back reward on everything, which is the cost to getting rid of something. A good example is aluminum cans. Try to find an aluminum can. Putting an aluminum can in plain sight isn’t really littering because somebody is bound to pick it up in a couple of hours for it’s buy-back reward. Sofas, water heaters, tv’s, and so on could be treated the same way.

  8. avoice says:

    Unused real estate should be fenced and boarded up and checked from time to time. This costs a little money but keeps local property values from falling because of neighborhood blight. Fines for dumping should be enforced thoroughly. Owners should be obliged to clean up unsued properties in the same way they are required to maintain occupied land. If cities have to do clean-ups then liens can be placed on the properties like tax assessments.

  9. eric says:

    Interesting theory about stresses. It seems to me that the stress rule is really just a corollary or elaboration of my rule, since in your examples of words where the stress doesn’t fall on the vowel in question but on the previous syllable (snickering, profiting, etc.) you couldn’t really pronounce that key second syllable as a long vowel without moving the stress onto it. So because there’s no question of pronouncing it as a long vowel, you are allowed to cut corners and drop the extra consonant, that otherwise would be needed to signal pronunciation. I myself, as the dialling/dialing issue shows, prefer always to double the consonant after a short or flat vowel (what are those called). Looking at two syllable words makes it clear that my rule is basic: siting/sitting; bating/batting; Jeter/Jetter; etc. Also there are lots of counterexamples to your stress rule: inflating; impeding; corroded; etc. But despite what the dictionaries say, I can’t think of a counterexample to my rule: can you think of a word spelled with two consonants after a long vowel? No, because if you have two consonants the vowel MUST be short! It has always made sense to me that therefore if you have a short vowel you should put two consonants after it… Sorry to clog your comments thread with this stuff; I know dumping is more important, and I am hoping SOMEONE’S magic wand will get rid of some of our freeways!

    Oh, re avoice’s comment about obliging owners to clean up: another option is to tax property based on its site value, so it isn’t as likely to sit unused. If a vacant lot worth 100,000 were taxed as if it had a house on it, the owners would be more likely to build or sell. Actually, I don’t know if this would work, and maybe there would be unintended consequences but it’s an appealing idea.

  10. wordnerd says:

    Eric: I pronounce DIAL to rhyme with FILE, so for me, DIALLING is a counterexample.

  11. eric says:

    Wordnerd: But then you would spell it DIALING, and I wouldn’t quibble–though I might pronounce it di-AY-ling if I had never heard the word before.

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