By Darlene Donloe
LEIMERT PARK — It’s 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday and a group of Leimert Park residents and volunteers have gathered on 6th Avenue armed with brooms, dust pans, gloves, trash bags, shovels and masks.
The community alliance is part of the Leimert Park Monthly Community Cleanup, an event held every second Sunday of the month that brings together residents and volunteers from nearby neighborhoods to clean the residential streets that make up the Leimert Park community.
Diane Robertson has been the Sutro Avenue Block Club president for six years. She organizes the two-hour monthly cleanup.
“I assign the cleanup crews,” said Robertson, who moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn 14 years ago and moved to Leimert Park in 2014. “We do the southeast, southwest, northeast and northwest quadrants of Leimert Park. Participants pick up their supplies, get their cleanup route assignments and go out in teams of four. I assign team captains for each team.”
Robertson said all volunteers must wear a facemask and remain a minimum of six feet apart at all times.
“I identify each route,” she said. “It changes every month. Because the interior streets are better cared for, we often focus on major streets like Stocker, Martin Luther King Boulevard and 42nd Street. They tend to have the most litter. And then we also do the alleys. It’s been great.”
Once all the trash has been collected, Robertson said every team captain is responsible for identifying a location for the filled trashed bags to be picked up.
“The bags are put on a median on an island and then the team captain submits a request through ‘MyLA311’ to be picked up on the next trash day by LA Sanitation, which is the following Tuesday.”
This is the first time Matthew Bahar, 29, has participated in the cleanup. He found out about the event two days before.
“I definitely wanted to do this because this is where we live,” said Bahar, who recently moved back to Leimert Park with his wife and child. “This is something that needs to be done. We have to keep our community clean.”
Dana Kramer has lived in Leimert Park for a year. This is her second time participating in the monthly cleanup.
“I’m here because I want to give back to the community,” she said. “I walk every day anyway. I may as well do something useful.”
The first Leimert Park Community Cleanup was in 2018.
“The plan at that time was to make it a monthly event,” said Robertson, an entertainment lawyer and the founder of the Leimert Park Jazz Festival, set this year for Aug. 28. “At some point, it stopped. Last year, I decided to give it another go. We had our launch on Halloween morning last year. We have been successful ever since.”
While the cleanups are a success, Robertson said they are in need of new supplies.
“We have dues that paid for the initial supplies,” she said. “Now we are in need of more. We need the big street sweepers instead of the residential ones. We also need trash grabbers. I have a request into the councilman’s office. It’s in progress.”
Robertson stresses that the monthly cleanup, which usually is between 15 and 22 volunteers, “is not to replace what the city is supposed to be doing.”
“This cleanup reflects a pride in our community that rubs off on people,” she said. “As people see us out there, it might encourage them to be more mindful as they move through the community. It might encourage them not to litter.”
Robertson believes it’s important for everyone to get involved in their communities.
“Block clubs are really important,” she said. “When I moved to Leimert in 2014, I immediately inquired about a block club. They are important because they keep neighbors involved and engaged. You should know who is living around you.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.