Los Angeles

Scathing Report Details How LA's Illegally Dumped Garbage is ‘Piling Up'

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A scathing report released Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Controller details how LA has failed to stop garbage from being illegally dumped all over town, seriously impacting public health and the quality of life.

"It’s utterly unacceptable and we are all experiencing it, unfortunately, in every single neighborhood of Los Angeles," LA City Controller Ron Galperin told the NBC4 I-Team. Galperin authored the long-awaited audit.

Almost two years ago, following a series of investigative reports by the I-Team about the growing problem of illegal dumping, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to crack down on those who illegally dispose of trash.

"We will not tolerate businesses that use our streets, alleyways, as their private dumping ground," Garcetti said in June 2019.

Garcetti didn't mention in his comments that much of the trash that's illegally dumped is put on streets by the unhoused population near encampments.

At the time, the mayor outlined steps the city would take to catch people illegally dumping trash on streets and freeways, which often includes bulky items like couches and mattresses. 

Garcetti said the city would install a network of surveillance cameras to catch the dumpers.

But Galperin's audit says LA has so far installed just 19 cameras in the 470 square mile city. That's about one camera to watch every 25 square miles.

"No way is that enough," Galperin told NBC4. "The real issue is that we need way more of them [cameras]," the Controller added.

Mayor Garcetti also vowed two years ago that the city would issue hefty fines to businesses and people caught illegally dumping trash on the streets.

But the controller's audit says those fines are often no more than $250, which he says is not enough to discourage illegal dumping of trash.

A blistering new report details how the city has failed to control illegal trash dumping in Los Angeles. Joel Grover reported on NBC4 News on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

"When you consider how much it costs to legally dump, it actually pays for many—particularly in construction or other kinds of activity—to do that illegally," Galperin said.

He added that the city of LA should increase fines for illegal dumping to at least $3,000, the amount currently allowed under state law.

The controller also said the city needs to assign more sanitation workers to collect the tons of illegally dumped garbage all over the city.

"It’s a public health issues, a public safety issue, an environmental issue and a quality of life issue for everybody," Galperin said.

The NBC4 I-Team reached out of Mayor Garcetti's office Tuesday to comment on the blistering audit, but received no response.

The head of LA's Sanitation Department, Enrique Zaldivar, told NBC4 the city has made "good, steady progress combating the [illegal dumping] problem." But he added that because of a city hiring freeze during the pandemic, there are now 17 vacancies in the Sanitation Department that can't be filled.

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