L.A. Controller Reports Illegal Dumping Up 450 Percent; Calls for Urgent Action to Create Cleaner, Healthier City

LOS ANGELES — Today, L.A. Controller Ron Galperin reported illegal dumping of trash, debris and hazardous items in public areas has jumped 450% from 2016 to 2020, with some areas seeing 500% to 600% increases. In his report, “Piling Up: Addressing L.A.’s Illegal Dumping Problem,” Galperin revealed that the City’s Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN) is working harder than ever, yet having trouble keeping up with the ever-increasing amount of waste dumped on L.A. sidewalks, streets and alleyways, making it unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and all residents in impacted neighborhoods. He called for urgent action to eliminate illegal dumping and hold responsible those accountable for the harm it causes local communities.

Accompanying the report is an interactive illegal dumping dashboard mapping the location of illegal dumping cleanup requests and tracking the numbers month by month over the past four years. The dashboard shows Downtown, East L.A., South L.A., the East San Fernando Valley and Watts to the Harbor had the most illegal dumping cleanup requests over the past four years.

“Public spaces meant to be used by everyone are being abused by too many,” said Controller Galperin. “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. This is an issue of equity as much as it is of health and safety.”

As illegal dumping cleanup requests have climbed, the City has put more resources into LASAN’s cleanup efforts to eliminate urban blight. Yet, not only have illegal dumping cleanup requests spiked, but the amount of solid waste picked up by LASAN has piled up, increasing from nearly 9,200 tons in 2016 to 14,500 tons through the first eight months of 2020. The City is cleaning up more trash, but not deterring people from dumping it.

PROBLEMS

Galperin identified these problems that prevent the City from effectively combating illegal dumping:

  • LASAN is spread thin = 5-day response times. Charged with both illegal dumping and homeless encampment cleanups, staff and resources are stretched thin, resulting in high service request response times. It took an average of five days to respond to illegal dumping requests in 2020, harming neighborhoods and worsening living conditions for unhoused individuals.
  • Investigation and enforcement lacking: There are only 19 illegal dumping surveillance cameras throughout all of L.A.’s 470 square miles, making it hard to catch people in the act, and there is no comprehensive strategy to enforce against lawbreakers.
  • Public awareness needed: The City does little to educate the public about the negative impacts of illegal dumping. A public awareness campaign highlighting the right way to dispose of excess trash and underscoring the criminal consequences of dumping would help.

CLEANING UP L.A.

Galperin recommended addressing the root causes of illegal dumping and doing more to enforce the law:

  • Increase the number of illegal dumping cleanup crews to boost cleanup capacity.
  • Reorganize LASAN’s enforcement and investigations unit and expand the illegal dumping surveillance camera program.
  • Establish a working group to coordinate illegal dumping enforcement.
  • Raise fines for those caught dumping illegally and boost oversight of commercial trash customers and construction projects.
  • Create a public awareness campaign to address illegal dumping issues and highlight free and low-cost trash disposal services.

Explore the report and illegal dumping dashboard at lacontroller.com/illegaldumping.

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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