Public Works Volunteer Guidelines

Thank you for your dedication to Oakland! Your well-being and enjoyment are important to us.

Public Works Volunteer Guidelines
Reglas para ser voluntario
Date Posted: August 31st, 2018 @ 3:44 PM
Last Updated: July 17th, 2019 @ 4:01 PM

All volunteers are expected to conduct themselves in a safe, courteous, and legal manner while participating in activities on City property or right-of-way.

General Conduct

• Always be courteous.
• Never use vulgar language or engage in threatening or disruptive actions.
• Never make unauthorized changes to City property or right-of-way, including landscaping.
• Keep foreign mulch and soils off City property and right-of-way, unless preauthorized by Public Works.

General Safety

• Wear appropriate footwear, clothing, sunscreen, and eye protection (when necessary).
• Stay hydrated.
• For Emergencies, call 911, or from a cell phone call 510-777-3333 (Oakland).
• In the event of injury while volunteering, please notify City of Oakland staff ASAP at, 510-238-7630.

Traffic Safety

• Stay out of the street when possible.
• When working in or around a gutter, work from the sidewalk.
• If working near traffic, wear a bright reflective work vest (available from the Adopt a Spot program).
• Cross streets at signals or crosswalks, not mid-block.

Working near Waterways
• Always work with a partner near water.
• Avoid touching poison oak. Bath and wash clothes after potential contact.
• Watch your footing on slopes and shorelines.
• Never allow children to work on steep slopes or near shorelines without adult supervision

Tool Safety

• Do not use power tools.
• Carry tools carefully to avoid hitting others. Best is to carry tools vertically with the tool pointed down.
• Always use the right tools for the job. Ask a team leader or City staff if you are unsure.
• Never allow children to play with tools or to use sharp tools.
• Always keep your tools close to you.
• When not using tools, neatly place them out of the way to prevent trip hazards.
• Count and clean your tools after an activity/cleanup.
• Return borrowed tools and supplies, as agreed. Tool Request Form available at

Debris Removal
• Always sweep, rake or shovel glass. Never pick up sharp objects with your hands.
• Never touch medical or hazardous waste (including hypodermic needles, automotive fluids, unknown fluids and materials). Report hypodermic needles to OAK311 and hazardous waste in the public right of way to the Oakland Fire Department at 510-444-3322.
• Separate collected materials into recycling, green waste and garbage.
• Dispose of recycling in your residential grey recycling cart.
• Dispose of small amounts of trash in your residential burgundy garbage cart.
Larger amounts of trash placed in clear plastic City-issued bags can be picked up by Public Works. Bags supplied by request.
• Dispose of small amounts of green waste, such as leaves and trimmings, in your residential green cart. Larger amounts of green waste placed in City-issued paper bags can be picked up by Public Works.

Working near Homeless Encampments

• Public Works does not authorize volunteers to work within homeless encampments.
• When staging debris for Public Works pickup, please leave volunteer debris bags at least 50 feet from a homeless encampment. This is to ensure that volunteer debris bags are not confused or mixed up with personal belongings of residents of the encampment. Bags placed too close to the encampment will not be picked up by Public Works.

Coordinating with Public Works to pick up City-issued trash or greenwaste bags
Park, median, and large volume pick-ups need pre-approval. Please contact the Adopt a Spot program at least two weeks in advance if you anticipate needing City assistance disposing of large amounts of trash or greenwaste. At least one month notice is needed for debris box requests.
• Consolidate bags into one or few locations on street corners or near accessible litter containers in parks. Place bags in a safe location out of the street and not blocking the public right of way, such as by a street corner or litter container.
• For street cleanups, report collected debris to the Public Works Call Center at (510) 615-5566, or or via
o Report the type of debris, quantity of bags, and nearest address or intersection.
• Contact Environmental Services at least two weeks prior to your event to facilitate timely pickup.

Contact the Adopt a Spot program if you are having challenges with debris pickups.