During her morning walk, Pairom Sar points in disgust at the dirty green leather chair hanging off the curb. Next to it? A pile of stinky yard waste.
The chair and yard waste weren't there when Sar went to bed. But most nights trash just seems to appear out of nowhere. She believes the items are dumped by people who don't live in the neighborhood.
"Some people outside of the flood (zone) come here," Sar says.
After San Jose’s Coyote Creek flooded on Feb. 21, the neighborhood of Rock Springs was inundated with trash and debris. Residents and construction crews spent months cleaning up and throwing out ruined furniture and belongings, and the city of San Jose provided dumpsters and regular pickups to assist.
But that pickup program ended earlier this summer, and there are still piles of trash. Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness believes the city’s cleanup effort has had an unintended effect.
"When people see trash in a neighborhood, they tend to bring their own stuff and dump it," Harkness says.
Handwritten "no dumping signs" hang on the trees in the neighborhood. Residents regularly report the illegal dumping to the city. But still people dump.
"They want a clean, safe community just like everyone else," Harkness says.
The sad thing is that there's really no reason to dump.
"The city will pick up up to three large bulk items," Harkness says. "Just go to our website or app and make an appointment."
The city is encouraging people to continue to report the dumping. If Rock Springs continues to become a hotspot for it, the city will consider installing cameras to catch dumpers and fine them. The fee for a first-time dumper is $2,500.
Pairom Sar stares at that dirty green leather chair hanging off the curb when I ask how she’s been doing since the flood.
"Just a little OK," she says.
Sar goes on to say she’s lived in Rock Springs since 1988, and most of her possessions were destroyed in the flood. All of the trash is a reminder of those losses.
Sar and her neighbors want it to go away -- so that they can finally move on.