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Leaf cleanup crews removing tons of debris daily in soggy cities

Residents are asked to keep their leaf piles 12 inches from the curb and clear of any parked vehicles.

STOCKTON, Calif — Like a pit crew facing the finish line, the San Joaquin County Public Works crews are in “leaf pickup mode” in the unincorporated areas of Stockton, as well as pockets in Linden, Escalon and Manteca.

"The main part is the training. The guys with the experience leading the younger crew members. We have some good crew leaders out here," said Ted Nishimura, San Joaquin County Public Works maintenance manager.

A crew of 13, some with brooms in hand and others with large dozers especially equipped with large attachments for snatching up the piles of leaves, goes from block to block in search of leaves.

Homeowners like Marie Heisch are thankful for the job they do.

"It's getting to be too many of them. We've bagged up on the side over here. We've got some in the backyard. Even my old man is taking them into Menlo Park to dump them at this job," said Heisch.


On an eight-hour shift, crews will scoop up about 15 to 20 tons a day! It would be much lighter, of course, without the wet weather. The main reason for the leaf pickup is so that storm drains don't get clogged. If they do, it could lead to street flooding.

"It's basically to keep the leaves out of the natural water system," added Nishimura.

Residents are asked to keep their leaf piles 12 inches from the curb and clear of any parked vehicles. Leaves must be in place to be removed by 7 a.m. on the day of the scheduled pickup.

For more information and to find out what day your leaves will be picked up, go to sjgov.org. The program continues through the first week of next year.

In Sacramento, where leaf-collection season runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 26, the city asks neighbors to put leaves in the yard waste bins before piling them on the sides of the street. Each street receives about seven pick-ups per season. Neighbors can report clogged storm drains and flooding by calling 311 or visiting Sac311.org. Sacramento's waste collection calendar is here.

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