Huizar’s motion will add more crews to increase cleanups, including hiring homeless and formerly homeless individuals
LOS ANGELES (June 28, 2019) — In response to a report by L.A. Sanitation (LASAN), responding to Councilmember José Huizar’s motion along with several others, the Los Angeles City Council Friday unanimously approved $150,000 to hire homeless and formerly homeless individuals for cleanup crews. The motion called for additional resources to address illegal dumping in Downtown Los Angeles as well as increased enforcement, fines and rewards to target violators, and asking departments to report on specific City notification practices when reporting illegal dumping.
LASAN will work with a community partner to employ homeless and formerly homeless individuals to collect trash and debris. Employing these groups will allow LASAN crews to provide service to more locations and offer opportunities for job training. To allow for more resources to handle illegal dumping, Council also approved $775,000 in overtime, with a larger package of over $2 million coming later this summer. This allows LASAN crews to work through July, August and September until additional teams are in place.
“I’m glad our City Council understands the urgency of this public health crisis and has moved quickly to address it,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “We need these resources to be implemented as soon as possible to clean our streets to match the emergency we’re in. As I’ve said before, we need an emergency, triage-like response to address homelessness but we also need resources, along with increased enforcement, to combat the amount of illegal dumping occurring on our streets.”
Councilmember Huizar’s motion was first introduced on June 5, 2019, and seconded by Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Monica Rodriguez, Curren Price, Joe Buscaino and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
In late 2017, Councilmembers Huizar, Curren Price and Mitch O’Farrell issued a motion calling for additional City crews to deal with an enormous and insurmountable backlog of service requests for cleanups and in 2018, the City Council and Mayor responded by doubling the number of crews dedicated to homeless encampments. As a result, today, there are 20 crews that operate as either “Clean Streets LA” or “HOPE” teams, primarily focused on addressing sanitation and other concerns related to homeless encampments.
More funding has been programmed in the recently approved budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 to address homeless encampments and illegal dumping, with 11 more Sanitation crews and a second Recreation and Parks crew for illegal dumping and encampment issues in City parks.
However, there remain challenges in quickly hiring and training the necessary staff to deploy these crews at the beginning of the new fiscal year, July 1, 2019.To date in 2019, LA Sanitation has responded to an average of 1,200 illegal dumping requests per month. While it generally responds to most requests within two weeks, the high volume of requests creates an ongoing backlog, and there is a continuing need for additional resources to quickly respond to all requests for service.
The City should look at other options to augment City resources for cleanups. Chrysalis is a non-profit employment services program that supports the City’s homelessness strategies and separately provides trash and street cleaning support to numerous Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Huizar’s motion asks the City to employ residents who are experiencing homelessness to provide trash and bulky-item clean up two days per week and five hours per day.
Enforcement is critical to preventing recurring violations and deter illegal dumping. The City should examine how to make enforcement as effective as possible. For example, in 2010, as chair of the Public Works Committee, Councilmember Huizar oversaw the increase of fines for illegal dumping and amendments to make it easier to cite violators without having to catch them in the act [CF 08-1122]; and in 2016 a motion by Councilmember Harris-Dawson [CF 14-1499-S4] asked to consider fine levels, state and County laws, and a possible reward program to enhance enforcement.
Currently, service requests are centralized and tracked through the 3-1-1 system, which allows anyone to call 3-1-1 or use the MyLA311 app to report a wide range of service needs, such as illegal dumping, graffiti, potholes, and other City-related issues. These service requests can come from residents, Council offices or other City employees and can then be responded to by departments and monitored by Council offices. Huizar’s motion is asking for an update on these processes.
In addressing homelessness, Councilmember Huizar helped establish the City’s Homelessness & Poverty Committee and is the co-author of Measure HHH. Council District 14 is at the top of the City’s list for the 222 permanent supportive housing pledge, with 816 units approved, and 2,956 existing units. Councilmember Huizar was also the first to commit to working with the Mayor to bring city-sponsored emergency bridge housing with supportive services to his council district.
Also, due to Councilmember Huizar’s advocacy, a minimum of $20 million for emergency housing and services will be earmarked for Skid Row and Downtown Los Angeles.
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