Caltrans Begins $1.1 Billion Highway Cleanup

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom and Caltrans officials visited the City of Richmond in the Bay Area to kick-off “Clean California,” the state’s $1.1 billion program to remove litter and other potentially dangerous waste from California’s highways. At the event, Newsom promised that funding would also be made available to cities and counties throughout the state for similar cleanup programs off of state highways and in public spaces.

“The litter problem, the trash problem, has plagued the state for many, many years…for decades,” says Caltrans director Toks Omishakin.

In addition to making the highways more attractive and safe, Newsom also touted the program’s impact on the economy and jobs market. Veterans, at-risk youth, people who were formerly homeless and people who were formerly incarcerated will be given priority for the jobs created by the three-year program.

“We’ve already hired or at least had job offers for 400 people just last week. And our goal is 11,000 people all throughout the state of California as part of this program,” explained Newsom in a press event broadcast by CBS/KPIX in the Bay Area.

Newsom also pledged that funding for the program would not be used to displace people currently experiencing homelessness from a current encampment. When asked about the possibility, Newsom pivoted to the $12 billion in the state budget to tackle issues related to homelessness.

“When our teams are out there on encampments notifying people of our intent to clean up an encampment, we’re doing so with more resources than any time in California history to follow through on our commitment to get people housed, and get people out of these dangerous environments,” Newsom said on the KTLA report on the press event.

There was no follow-up as to what would happen if an individual experiencing homelessness refused services or housing.

The “Clean California” program was announced in May, when Newsom unveiled his budget. The program was budgeted at $1.5 billion, although it was trimmed to $1.1 billion during negotiations with the legislature.