Illegal dumping up 450% in five years, report says

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Illegal dumping of trash, debris and hazardous items in Los Angeles’ public areas increased 450% between 2016 and 2020, according to a report released last week by the city controller.

Public spaces meant to be used by everyone are being abused by too many,” Controller Ron Galperin said. “Businesses and individuals are illegally dumping thousands of tons of trash, debris and hazardous waste on our sidewalks and streets, lessening the quality of life nearby.

The city needs to do more to prevent neighborhoods, especially historically disadvantaged neighborhoods, from becoming dumpsites for scofflaws who either don’t know or refuse to obey our illegal dumping laws,” he said. “This is an issue of equity as much as it is of health and safety.”

According to Galperin’s report, “Piling Up: Addressing L.A.’s Illegal Dumping Problem,” the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation is struggling to keep up with the increasing amount of waste dumped on L.A. sidewalks, streets and alleyways, and the waste is making it unsafe for all Angelenos.

The amount of solid waste picked up by sanitation crews increased from 9,200 tons in 2016 to 14,500 tons in the first eight months of 2020, according to the report.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said during an unrelated news conference that “there’s no question during the pandemic that we saw ([illegal dumping] explode.”

He said the city would work to address the problem by tripling the number of public trash cans that get regularly emptied and by deploying proactive teams into areas that have regular illegal dumping.

Galperin said in his report that the city is not deterring people from dumping trash, and he’s calling for urgent action to stop illegal dumping, including holding people who are doing it responsible for causing harm to local communities.

According to the report, the problems include:

• The L.A. Bureau of Sanitation’s resources and staff are spread too thin because it is charged with handling illegal dumping and cleanups of homeless encampments, and as a result, the average time it took sanitation crews to respond to illegal dumping requests in 2020 was five days.

The city only has 19 illegal dumping surveillance cameras throughout its 470 square miles and there is no comprehensive strategy for the city to enforce against illegal dumping.

• And there is little education to the public about the negative impacts of illegal dumping.

Galperin is recommending that the city:

Increase the number of illegal dumping cleanup crews.

• Reorganize the Bureau of Sanitation’ enforcement and investigations unit and add more surveillance cameras.

• Establish a working group tasked with coordinating enforcement against illegal dumping.

• Increase fines for people who are caught illegally dumping and increase oversight of commercial trash consumers and construction projects.

• And create a public awareness campaign to educate the public on the impact that illegal dumping has on neighborhoods, and highlight free and low-cost trash disposal services.

The entire report can be read at lacontroller.com/illegaldumping.