Los Angeles have long suspected that their community may be dirtier and more debris-strewn than other parts of town. Now a city website rating the cleanliness of streets and alleys across Los Angeles has confirmed those beliefs in identifying the neighborhood—just four miles south of sexy, shiny downtown—and also in Wilmington, East Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley as among those most in need of sprucing up.
Mayor Eric Garcetti joined city councilmembers and city sanitation officials late last week to unveil the CleanStat assessment system, which follows a similar data-based approach as the police department’s CompStat method. Councilman Curren Price, who represents the Ninth District, jumped ahead of the report months ago when he instructed the city sanitation department to install more trash cans on major thoroughfares such as Central Avenue and Avalon Boulevard. Price has also undertaken a vigourous effort to clean alleyways and to bring attention to illegal dumping.
Los Angeles relies on dashcam video and a GIS mapping system to catalog and assess the cleanliness of streets, alleys and sidewalks. Sanitation workers have already graded nearly 40,000 sites in recent months and will update the database every three months. Residents in each district are encouraged to immediately report illegal dumping.
Information on areas that have been graded is available to the public at www.cleanstreetsla.org.
Areas are graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being the cleanest and 3 being the dirtiest. The grades are then shown on a map available on the website that shows streets with a 1 grade in green, a 2 grade in yellow and a 3 grade in red. The map shows patches of red across the city, but southern areas of Los Angeles clearly have a concentration of streets in need of cleaning.
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents a South Los Angeles area district,” that he “cannot express to folks more than they already know how personal and how integral it is to grow up in a neighborhood that’s always dirty.”
“Because after a while you grow up believing that the neighborhood is dirty because of you and your neighborhood is dirty because you don’t deserve a clean neighborhood, and some other people in another neighborhood do deserve a
clean neighborhood,” he said.
According to the database, 61 percent of the streets rated so far are considered clean, while 35 percent fell in the middle category of somewhat clean, and 4 percent were unclean.
Garcetti said it may seem like the city is doing well since 96 percent of its streets are fairly clean, but the 4 percent of dirty streets is still significant, since it equates to 376 miles or running a marathon each day for two weeks and seeing only streets filled with trash.
“No one should have to live anywhere with an underpass that’s crowded with an old mattress and furniture, or to pick up fast food trays from your stoop when you get home after a long day at work,” he said. He also noted during a demonstration that the map highlights dirty streets that are two miles of a school, and can be used to track trends, such as illegal dumping “hotspots.”
“We’ll be able to send clean-up crews to these chronic dumping sites and ramp up enforcement efforts … to stop this illegal activity,” he said.
Garcetti said providing clean streets is a critical complement to bigger-picture municipal issues such as the minimum wage, homelessness and the Los Angeles River.
“None of the big things matter if we don’t feel good about where we live,” Garcetti said, adding that the city needs to do a better job of responding to basic needs.
He said Los Angeles is the first city in the nation to collect such extensive information about the cleanliness of its streets. As part of the survey, city officials will also look for evidence of illegal dumping and other violations contributing to dirty streets and alleys.