HOUSTON – Houston City Council approved Tuesday an increase in fines for illegal dumping, the secretary’s office confirms. The fine doubles from $2,000 to $4,000.
Officials said the legal department recommended that the city council approve the ordinance related to dumping and increased the penalty to the fine of $4,000, which is the maximum penalty permitted by state law.
The criminal charges for illegal dumping can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, separate from fines. Previously, the fines handed down can be as low as $50 for garbage, rubbish, and trash, and overgrown lots to high as $2,000 for broken fences and junk motor vehicles. Fines also increase for those who face multiple offenses.
Houston has had a long documented battle with illegal dumping, specifically in lower-income communities. Dumping sites are eyesores, unsafe and smelly, and many residents are fed up.
According to city and county officials, many who do this illegal act often live within a 3-mile or less radius from their own home and business. The city also received over 8,000 calls in 2019 related to trash dumping or illegal dumpsites, according to city data.
Efforts are underway to curb illegal dumping in the Houston area, including educating the public, installing cameras in high problem areas and establishing dedicated teams to fight against the act.