LOS ANGELES (June 5, 2019) — Councilmember José Huizar introduced legislation Wednesday calling for additional resources to address illegal dumping in Downtown Los Angeles, such as hiring more crews to increase cleanups, including those manned by homeless and formerly homeless individuals through the non-profit Chrysalis. Huizar’s motion also calls for increased enforcement, fines and rewards to target violators, as well as asking departments to report on specific City notification practices when reporting illegal dumping.
Councilmember Huizar’s motion was seconded by Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Monica Rodriguez, Curren Price, Joe Buscaino and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
“I have long said that Downtown Los Angeles needs an emergency, triage-like response when it comes to addressing homelessness, but that is also true for the amount of trash that is illegally dumped on our streets,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “It is deplorable and a health and safety issue that should not be allowed to occur in the second-largest city in the nation. We must do better and it must consist of improved cleanup practices, along with enforcement against those businesses and others who blatantly pollute our streets.”
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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