Illegal creek dumping concerns rise in Montecito

Montecito creekbed dumping fines

MONTECITO, Calif. - Santa Barbara County's Public Works department has received numerous complaints of illegal dumping in Montecito area creekbeds. The problem stems from homeowners not knowing where to put leftover debris remaining on properties impacted by the Jan 9th mudflows.

Piles of debris remain on many properties in Montecito. Homeowners are left wondering where to put it all with a chance of rain returning to the forecast next week.

What is clear is residents don't have the option of dumping debris into a creek beds.

“We are seeing some incidents of dumping into the creek channels that have been cleared out or treated,” said Tom Fayram from Santa Barbara County Public Works. “It is really important that this doesn’t happen for the publics safety and it’s also very illegal to do so.”

Illegal dumping violates both federal and state laws. Property owners and contractors caught doing it will be hit with a big fine.

“We are seeing people that don’t have options and they think if we just put the sediment there it will be ok and it will just wash out into the ocean,” said Fayram. “Aside from being illegal without having permits to do so that may or many not be the case. We could be causing a major problem.”

Dumping into creeks can also cause significant flooding and debris flow hazards in future storms. 

“A lot of the debris basins are going as far away as Fillmore so we know it’s a problem and we are working on it,” said Fayram. “We don’t have a solution yet but we are working it. It needs to be fixed.”

Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency is working daily to find new disposal options and encourage the public to check READYSBC.ORG for options as added to the website.

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