Is it too much to ask for a beach without needles and shit on it?

Click on the words above “Is it too much to ask? for a beach with no needles and shit on it?” to see this entire post.

Recently while visiting the east shore of San Francisco Bay in Berkeley as I attempt to understand where the dirty syringes I find all over the beaches in West Marin come from each winter, I came upon this image.

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This young mother had brought her son to enjoy the waves.

He is a beautiful young boy. He is also autistic.

His mother’s family took his sister and the rest of the family to Hawaii on vacation.

They did not want him to join them. Which broke his mother’s heart.

He so Looooooves the feeling of water on him.

He would stand as the tiny waves crashed into him, smiling like the giant star he is as each buttery hand washed over him. His smile beaming.

Occasionally the water would knock him down and his mother would rush over and help him up if he was unable to right himself.

I watched with swelling heart for a few minutes. He was in complete bliss.

Slowly I approached his mother and explained that this beach was often covered with raw sewage, needles, condoms and other unhealthy items.

I held up a plastic water bottle with the several dirty syringes I had just picked up from this tiny sliver of sand adjacent to West Frontage Road, itself adjacent to Southbound 80 near Ashby Avenue in Berkeley CA.

She sighed and ran to help her son up from the toxic water.

Again his smile shone like a thousand blazing suns as he relished the feeling of the water caressing him.

How blessed I am to live where I do, so close to dozens of beaches mostly free of used hypodermic syringes and bags of human shit tossed from homeless individuals living in their cars alongside a roaring ribbon of pavement and cars busy taking people god knows where to make the world a better place with the likes, instagrams, ubers, airbnb’s and all manner of progress(?).

I shared with his mother how to get to one of the brilliant beaches I am blessed to live near, giving her a map with directions. I hope she brings him there soon.

She thanked me for my efforts and for sharing with her a beach to take her son to that is not covered with shit and dirty needles.

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Here is how Ashby beach often looks.

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Bag of human feces dropped on road next to SF Bay

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Ashby at Shellmound – 2 February 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Ashby at Shellmound….” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and Ashby Avenues

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze Market University at Frontage Rd.– 11 February 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze…” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and the Sea Breeze Market.

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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What toxic substances are dumped into that drain that flows directly to San Francisco Bay?

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Numerous propane tanks, unsecured next to busy roadways

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Lead acid batteries, unsecured next to busy roadways

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More lead acid batteries

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze Market University at Frontage Rd.– 2 February 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze…” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and Ashby Avenues

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Lead acid batteries unsecured near busy roadways

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Numerous propane tanks unsecured near busy roadways

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Gilman at Frontage Rd.– 11 February 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Gilman at Frontage Rd….” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and Ashby Avenues

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze Market University at Frontage Rd.– 24 January 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze…” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and Ashby Avenues

On this day I happened to arrive as CalTrans crews removed items after posting a a notice to clear out of the area and take you items with you.
The law requires 72 hour notice, I was told the people squatting here had been given a week, and still they did not vacate the premises.

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Gilman at Frontage Rd.– 24 January 2019

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Gilman at Frontage Rd….” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and Ashby Avenues

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze Market University at Frontage Rd.– 17 December 2018

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze University at Frontage Rd….” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and the Sea Breeze Market.

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze Market University at Frontage Rd.– 4 December 2018

Click the words above “Impact of homeless camps in Berkeley CA – Sea Breeze University at Frontage Rd….” to see this entire post.

Below images show the areas along West Frontage Road near University and the Sea Breeze Market.

Click on an image to see a larger version, then click on the dimensions above image name to see it full sized.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Ad hoc medical waste container – it sat there spilling needles for months until I recovered it and took it to the Berkeley Needle Exchange

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That drain feeds straight to San Francisco Bay. What dangerous chemicals are regularly dumped into this drain, poisoning the bay?

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Lead acid batteries stored in the open, waiting to leak into San Francisco Bay

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Street trash washed into Lake Merritt, Oakland CA 21 November, 2018

Click the words above “Street trash washed into Lake Merritt…” to see this entire post.

The day before Thanksgiving was the first big rain of 2018.

People who study rivers, urban blight as well as surfers call this first big rain the “First Flush”.

The rain rinses the smog, plastic, cigarette butts, urine, oil, feces and all manner of other items off the streets of our cities into creeks, rivers, storm drains and eventually the ocean. The same ocean that has been feeding us for millenia

The same ocean we are destroying with our trash.

For three years now I’ve made sure to be at Lake Merritt in Oakland CA for the first flush.

Why?

Because I learned that it is where at least 62 storm drain pipes, fed by hundreds (thousands?) of storm drains feed water and what it washes from the streets, into Lake Merritt. Actually Estuary Merritt, since it is connected to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and the world’s oceans.

For the past decade I’ve been packing trash off the beaches of Point Reyes Seashore. Among all the other garbage I pick up are needles. Syringes. Sharps.

I’ve picked up perhaps 150 during that time. Enough that I no longer walk barefoot on beaches.

For a couple years, when I saw families out to enjoy the beach in the winter (when the needles usually show up), I would sometimes quietly explain to parents on Drakes or Limantour Beach that they might want to be careful and keep an eye on their children, as I find hypodermic syringes on this beach in the winter.

This suggestion was usually met with wide eyes and thanks.

More than several times, after their eyes got wide, their faced screwed down tight as they berated me for ruining their only time to get out to the beach with their children.

I no longer warn parents about the needles.

If you’d like to educate yourself about one of the major causes of the opioid crisis depicted below in images, read the following articles:

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

Investigation: The DEA slowed enforcement while the opioid epidemic grew out of control

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

Full Coverage: Oxycontin Investigation

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Below are images showing what I collected on 21 November over a few hours from one pipe in particular.

You can see what I found in 2017 and 2016 too.

As always, click on an image to see a larger version. Please contact me if you wish to use any of my images in any way. All images ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Yellow pollen washed off the streets paints an oddly beautiful sheen on the surface, pocked with garbage from humans.

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Shortly after I arrived in the morning, this was how much debris had arrived.

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A pair of hungry snowy egrets perches atop the oil containment boom installed twenty years ago. Imagine if when you went to the market to shop for food, the vegetable section was littered with garbage, bags of feces and syringes.

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As the rain kept falling, washing more debris from the streets of Oakland, the debris piled up.

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Toni was out for a jog this rainy day. After she learned what I was doing, she asked if she could help. Of course I said, explaining she had to BE VERY CAREFUL.
She used a second litter-grabber I had, got on hands and knees and plucked out 15-20 needles. Stopping only when she was shivering too much. She thanked me for caring (I thanked her too) then jogged off in the rain.

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45 minutes later, warmed from her run, she starting plucking needles out again, stopping only when she again started shivering too much to be able to hold the grabber. THANK YOU Toni!

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A passerby told me the orange sandals are issued to inmates at Santa Rita jail.

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Blue and pink plastic vials of sterile water or saline (called bullets on the street) are given to IV drug users by needle exchange programs to mix with whatever it is they plan to inject themselves with. It would appear the needle exchange model is not working given all these lost needles endangering our community and ocean.

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This sleeping bag weighed over 100 pounds when I carefully pulled it out of the water to drip dry. There were six needles on or in it, good thing I know what to expect when dealing with trash around the East Bay.

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