After facing international headlines about LA's out-of-control garbage and rodent problem, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday unveiled steps to clean up trash-filled streets.
And the mayor put the blame for piles of waste left on city streets, on unnamed businesses that he says dump trash to avoid disposal fees.
"We will not tolerate businesses that use our public streets, our spaces, our alleyways, as their private dumping ground," Garcetti said from a podium on Ceres Avenue.
Ceres Avenue has become an international embarrassment for the mayor, after the NBC4 I-Team last month exposed how the city allowed trash to pile up eight feet high and a block long for months, even when citizens complained to 311.
The I-Team's stories went viral worldwide.
Garcetti Thursday stood on a cleaned up Ceres Avenue, with a city sanitation truck positioned behind him, to discuss steps the city will now take to crackdown on businesses that he says illegally dump their waste on LA’s streets. New efforts will include posting surveillance cameras to catch the lawbreakers, deploying undercover sanitation officers to spot them, and pursuing prosecution.
But some politicians and downtown residents say the Mayor is avoiding the real issue: the hundreds of homeless encampments across LA that generate most of the trashy piles that are breeding grounds for disease-carrying rodents. On Tuesday, a survey released by officials showed a 16% increase in the city's homeless population.
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"The bulk of the trash stems from these encampments throughout the city," LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino told NBC4.
Buscaino worked the streets of LA as an LAPD officer for 15 years, often interacting with the homeless.
"I feel that homeless encampments are a major source of trash and rat infestation and I know that based on my experience working the streets of Los Angeles for many years," the councilman said.
Buscaino has proposed a solution to the trash problem: have the city hire homeless people to clean up litter on the streets. He introduced a motion in the city council to create a pilot program back in 2017, but the city has yet to fund it.