L.A. to Take ‘Hot Spot’ Approach to Trash

By City News Service

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to begin creating a citywide approach to cleaning up trash and picking up couches, televisions and other bulky items illegally abandoned on streets.

City officials spent the past six months studying the issue, which included examining how other major cities such as San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., handle abandoned waste.

City officials presented a proposal to the City Council that calls for a more proactive approach to tackling illegal dumping and trash-strewn streets, including deploying a team to scout for trash to pick-up and using data to target “hotspots” of abandoned trash.

The Public Works Commission would also have a greater role in managing the proposed trash pick-up and street clean-up program.

The proposal also calls for adding more trash cans to the streets. There are currently about 1,000 trash receptacles around the city, officials said.

The approach differs from the city’s current reliance on a complaint-based system in which residents are expected to dial 311 to report bulky items discarded on the streets. The strategy has fallen short, with some Angelenos not even aware of the existence of a telephone hotline for making complaints, officials said.

City Administrative Office Miguel Santana said it could take several more weeks to develop a plan for carrying out the new strategy. The costs have not been determined, but the hope is to find special funds and sources other than just the general fund, Santana said.

The latest strategy for tackling abandoned trash builds on efforts in City Councilman Gil Cedillo’s northeast Los Angeles district that he says has led to more than 2,500 tons of trash being cleaned up during the last 18 months.

Trash was cleared out of 286 alleys, and at least three dozen clean-up events were organized throughout his district, Cedillo said.

“This problem is one of the most vexing problems that we have in the city,” said Cedillo, who decided to make trash clean-up a priority after seeing refuse and abandoned bulky items cluttering up the district’s streets while he campaigned for a seat on City Council.

“It’s so important for us to have a clean city,” he said. “This large urban area … we’re more dense (than many other cities) and as a result we have more trash. What we don’t have is the infrastructure” that other cities have for tackling abandoned trash pickup.

The council also approved a motion by Cedillo and fellow council members, Joe Buscaino and Mike Bonin, that orders staff to produce reports on adding more trash cans, regulating illegal dumping, creating a public awareness campaign and targeting “chronic illegal dumping” in South Los Angeles, Watts and the Harbor area.

Mayor Eric Garcetti allocated $5 million this year toward cleaning up trash, after several years in which abandoned trash pick-up programs had been scaled back.

The city lost about 250 sanitation employees in recent years, and the cost of cleaning up abandoned trash has traditionally cost about $12 million, according to Sanitation Bureau Executive Director Enrique Zaldivar.

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March 19, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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