Couches, mattresses, car seats and even a quarter of the body of a car were among the piles and piles of trash that lay untouched on a scenic corridor of state Highway 35 near Highway 92.
Two Kings Mountain residents decided the area deserved a cleanup.
Friends and neighbors Aiden Zahedi, 10, and Niamh Dawes, 14, arrived at the location on Saturday, Dec. 19, with dumpsters, trash grabbers, trailers, masks and work gloves in hand to scavenge 18 cubic yards of trash, said Niamh. The two- to three-hour cleanup drew 32 community members.
"I've lived here my whole life," Niamh said. "There's a lot of dumping and lately (since the pandemic) there's been a lot more."
In March, the two started delivering pizzas — through Aiden's family's restaurant Rise Pizzeria in Burlingame and San Mateo — to Kings Mountain homes. They then decided to take a portion of the proceeds from the pizza delivery to clean up Skyline. So far, they have raised $1,250 for the cause.
"Our family has always been really passionate about the environment," Aiden said. "We go camping a lot. When we're hiking, we've always picked up trash on trails. So when we saw the dump site, we were like 'what?'"
Before the cleanup, they enlisted the help of San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley ("Who's going to not take a call from a couple of kids who want to do a cleanup?" he said). An email to Horsley led to a Zoom call. Horsley then contacted trash collector Republic to waive the fees to dump the trash at Ox Mountain landfill in Half Moon Bay.
Caltrans sent out a crew during the cleanup day, which picked up 30 yards of waste, but couldn't gather trash behind the bushes along the road, Niamh noted. Horsley asked the California Highway Patrol to keep the volunteers safe on the stretch of road people tend to speed on.
"It's one of those things that gives you hope for the future; kids that decide they want to make the community better," said Horsley. "It's mystifying to me that some people will just dump trash, hoping somebody else will pick it up or it will go back to dust, but it doesn't. It just causes environmental degradation."
Niamh feels empowered after the event that kids "can really take charge of something" and "really rally the community."
Aiden and Niamh plan to host another trash pickup day in the new year.