City renews efforts to reduce illegal dumping

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LOS ANGELES — The City Council voted Aug. 25 to reconvene a previously formed interdepartmental illegal dumping working group following a report that found illegal dumping of trash and hazardous items in the city’s public areas increased 450% between 2016 and 2020.

According to Controller Ron Galperin’s report, which was released in March, the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation is struggling to keep up with the increasing amount of waste dumped on L.A. sidewalks, streets and alleys, 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.

According to the report, the Bureau of Sanitation’s resources 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 bureau has only 19 surveillance cameras across the 470-square-mile city to catch illegal street dumping incidents.

Enforcement too is problematic as there is no comprehensive strategy to approach the issue, despite the fact that enforcement involves several departments, including [Bureau of Sanitation], the [Bureau of Street Services], the Los Angeles Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office,” the City Council’s Personnel, Audits and Animal Welfare Committee said in a report recommending action.

The council voted to instruct the Bureau of Sanitation, the Bureau of Street Services, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Recreation and Parks to reconvene the working group, which would identify trends and coordinate enforcement activities.

The Bureau of Sanitation was also instructed to report in 60 days on the number of vacancies within its Watershed Protection, Livability Services and RecycLA divisions and what is needed to meet demand for services and enforcement; the creation of a dedicated sworn public officer classification for environmental compliance officer positions to improve recruitment and retention; and the feasibility of purchasing, installing and maintaining 60 additional cameras to more effectively investigate and enforce illegal dumping in the city.

The City Council also instructed the Bureau of Sanitation to draft a report with an analysis of existing fees to ensure cost recovery for commercial facility inspection services and fine levels to sufficiently deter people from illegally dumping.

Public spaces meant to be used by everyone are being abused by too many,” Galperin said when releasing the report on March 24.

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 dump sites for scofflaws who either don’t know or refuse to obey our illegal dumping laws,” he added. “This is an issue of equity as much as it is of health and safety.”