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Los Angeles Just Isn't Picking Up Trash in Poor Neighborhoods

The illegal dumping of stuff like furniture, tires, and old toys in alleys and on sidewalks is an issue all over Los Angeles (as is general trashfulness), but the way it's handled by the city varies widely by neighborhood, often according to wealth. Sanitation crews have not responded to more than 20 percent of requests for removal of gross garbage piles across the city since 2010, apparently, but the LA Times found that's mostly because of hugely uneven service. In that time, more than a third of the requests for cleanup in neighborhoods in Central, Northeast, and South LA went ignored while sanitation staff took care of 99 percent of requests "in other parts of the city."

Take, for example, Pico-Union. The average income in the Downtown-adjacent neighborhood is about a third of the average income in coastal Venice (thanks, Silicon Beach!) and the two neighborhoods called in about the same amount of requests for junk removal in the period studied. But while almost all of Venice's requests were addressed by city crews, less than 60 percent of Pico-Union's were. One South LA alley has had 20 requests for cleanup in about a year and a half. Only two of those requests were heeded by city sanitation crews.

The sanitation departments puts the blame for the uneven response on the huge backlog of requests it has to deal with and the fact that the bureau's new software is so wonky that no one knows what's been done and what hasn't (sanitation officials said they "could not vouch for the accuracy of data collected since last fall"). There's also a big gap between how many workers are needed to handle the volume of requests and how many the city has: right now, there are 18 workers tasked with responding to more than 2,000 calls a month for removal of illegally dumped junk.

Whatever the reason, it's obviously unacceptable. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who created a Clean Streets Initiative earlier this year, says he'll be launching an internal investigation to figure out the cause of the response disparity. He's already ordered the Bureau of Sanitation to catalog city streets according to cleanliness by the end of the year and to use that information to "prioritize cleanup efforts."
· Many poorer areas of L.A. get less trash service, analysis shows [LAT]
· Internal City Report: Los Angeles is Full of Trash [Curbed LA]