An internal city report recently determined something that all of us that live in Los Angeles can tell: Los Angeles has way too much trash.
Obtained by the LA Times (probably by searching through the “obvious” folder at City Hall), the report was written for the office of City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. The one statistic that seems to best sum up Los Angeles’ problem is that there are only 700 trash cans in a city of almost 500 square miles. The city apparently thinks there are “thousands” in the streets. Surely many will attest that these trash bins are often in disrepair or overflowing, and sometimes both.
“When you live in a big city, there is a certain amount of grittiness you expect. But there is an expectation that the status quo isn’t good enough anymore,” Santana told the LA Times.
Even more infuriating is that only 35% of L.A.’s streets are even regularly cleaned, which means that a lot of parking tickets are handed out for no good reason (well, there’s a good reason for the city and officers themselves). Handing out these bogus tickets “dampens the relationship and perception of our priorities as a city,” the report said, which is really the nicest way of putting it. At least the mayor is on our side.
Residents of Los Angeles shoulder some of the blame as well, though there’s a certain chicken-and-egg dilemma when the city is unable to keep up with the problem. City Hall is ineffective at enforcing dumping laws, which only further encourages residents and businesses to add to the problem. Los Angeles spends $12 million a year to clean up large dumped items from the streets (furniture, electronics, etc.), but it obviously can’t keep up with what’s out there. In South L.A. an alley can yield as much as 100 tons of garbage, says the report.
Neighborhoods and business districts instead turn to volunteer-driven or privately-funded efforts to keep their streets and sidewalks clean. The Fashion District relies on a private nonprofit to collect the six tons of illegally dumped garbage every day. “We are paying taxes, we should have services. But the facts are the city doesn’t have enough money for it,” says Dilip Bhavnani, Chairman of the Arts District.
The report suggests that the city form a “task force” (of course) to combat the trash problem. It also suggests looking at New York City’s Project Scorecard, a data-driven approach which Curbed called “a gentrification exercise, a way to crack down on poor people and make neighborhoods more palatable for the rich.” However, the blog says the idea might actually work for Los Angeles, where neighborhoods are more segregated.
At least the politicians, for whom the report was written, admit they have a problem on their hands. Councilman Joe Buscaino, who heads the Public Works Committee for the city council, told the LA Times that it’s an ongoing struggle: “We respond, we clean an alley, and it gets dumped on again in a matter of days. It’s a never-ending battle.”