UPDATED with comments from the Newport Beach municipal operations director.
A stretch of East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar has become the dumping ground for used adult diapers, but city officials say there’s not much they can do unless they catch the culprits in the act.
The diapers first began to appear near the Cameo Highlands neighborhood in early summer, one resident said. She asked her name not be published for fear of retaliation. “I don’t want them to Google me and leave poopy diapers at my house,” she said.
“It’s been probably eight months since I first noticed them,” the woman said. “At first it only occurred every few months. Then it was every six weeks, and now it’s been three times since December. This is a pattern.”
On Dec. 3, there were about six to 10 diapers spread on the westbound lanes of East Coast Highway between Cameo Highlands Drive and Morning Canyon Road. The diapers were disintegrating and blowing in the wind as cars drove over them. They were clearly dirty, and eventually they were removed.
More diapers were dumped on Dec. 29, and then more were dumped sometime this week.
A few residents have called police to complain. The resident who spoke to Corona del Mar Today said she spoke to a Newport Beach municipal operations staff member who said the mess would be cleaned.
“He said it was unbelievable,” she said. “I saw a bicyclist swerve to ride around one this week. It’s not healthy at all. It’s just bad.”
Newport Beach’s municipal code prohibits throwing garbage on streets and in public places, and fines start at $100.
“Unfortunately, from a Code Enforcement standpoint, this is considered littering or illegal dumping,” said Tara Finnigan, a Newport Beach spokeswoman. “We need to catch someone in the act in order to cite them.”
If anyone sees someone dumping diapers, police ask them to call general services at (949) 644-3055.
At tonight’s meeting of the Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission, resident Dan Purcell of Corona del Mar asked about whether East Coast Highway should have more frequent street sweeping because of the diaper problem.
Mark Harmon, Newport Beach municipal operations director, said his staff cleaned the diapers by 3:30 p.m. today, just two hours after they were notified. Staff also was working with code enforcement to find the perpetrator, he said.
“We believe it’s from a collection vehicle,” he said, which is collecting from a private firm that staff is trying to track down.
“We can only do so much,” he told the commissioners.