Los Angeles city work crews were out in force Wednesday morning near downtown LA, as part of a new effort to remove trash and filth from more streets.
The effort is part of the city’s attempt to stem an outbreak of typhus, a bacterial disease that has infected at least nine people in the downtown area. Typhus causes high fever, rashes, and stomach pain.
The action comes in the wake of an NBC4 I-Team investigation that documented how trash, infested with rats and flies, has been piling up since at least May and the city hadn't removed it.
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On the orders of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who allocated an extra $300,000 for the clean up effort, Sanitation Department crews will now regularly remove trash and feces and then power wash the entire area the city now calls "The Typhus Zone."
The Zone spans from 3rd Street to 7th Street and Spring Street to Alameda Street, an area which includes not just homeless encampments but pricey new residential and commercial buildings.
"Every area around here, that will be in the Typhus Zone, will be cleaned up every four weeks," said Enrique Saldivar, who heads up LA's Bureau of Sanitation.
But people who live and work in the area say the expanded street sanitizing effort doesn't go far enough. There are many trash strewn streets that are just outside the clean up boundary, like Ceres Avenue in the Produce District.
"This is a city thoroughfare and it's the city's responsibility to clean it up," said Estela Lopez, executive director of the LA Downtown Industrial Business Improvement District.
Because of the I-Team's report, the Bureau of Sanitation now says it will clean out mountains of trash from Ceres Avenue on Friday.
As for the streets that are being regularly sanitized, Sanitation Department crews aren't removing all the filth. On one street, the I-Team noticed a dead rat and a pile of feces left behind after crews supposedly cleaned that block.
"If this is called street cleaning somebody's not doing their job," said Darwin Spears, who told NBC4 he lives in a tent on San Pedro Avenue and witnessed that street being cleaned today.
"They don't do a good job," he said, pointing to a pile of feces still on the street after crews had power washed it. "That s--- has been there for about three or four days," said Spears.