Category Archives: District 8

Logan Triangle Illegal Dumping Action Plan

Logan Triangle, like many areas in Philadelphia, suffers from excessive illegal dumping.

At the Logan Civic Association meeting on May 14th, local residents complained about this long term problem and asked for action.

Based on District 8 Trash Task Force meetings, personal investigations and Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet information, I have assembled the attached Logan Triangle Illegal Dumping Action Plan to help focus our efforts to tackling the Logan Triangle and wider dumping crisis.

Key points from this draft plan:

  1. Six Illegal Dumping Control Actions are available to communities and the City
    1. Encourage community Philly311 reporting
    2. Engage Area Block Captains (8 in Logan Triangle vicinity)
    3. Engage SWEEP officers to assess Logan Triangle situation & make recommendations
    4. Illegal Dumping, Truck Parking Signs
    5. Enhanced Barriers (specific recommendations for Logan Triangle provided)
    6. Surveillance Cameras ( 4 proposed for Logan Triangle)
  2. Logan Triangle has many specific dumping hot spots. 8 action areas have been identified to begin coordinated community – City efforts. Additional action areas will be added as we progress
  3. Specific action plans have been developed for each of the initial 8 action areas.
  4. There are 8 Block Captains in the Triangle vicinity. They could provide valuable insight and leadership to our efforts if the Streets Department can facilitate communication between these Block Captains and the District 8 Trash Task Force.
  5. SWEEP officers have extensive experience assessing trash sources and corrective actions which can help the community efforts. Can the Streets Department facilitate communication between SWEEP officers and the District 8 Trash Task Force?
  6. Streets placed dozens of concrete barriers around Logan Triangle to limit access to the open land. This report identifies several locations where dumpers are able to bypass the barriers to dump. Specific recommendations are included to move, realign and/or remove barriers by action area.
  7. Philly311 has accepted multi-block illegal dumping requests and currently is processing requests for 3 of the 8 action areas in Logan Triangle.
  8. 4 surveillance camera locations are recommended. Can Streets and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority expedite camera deployment to these 4 Logan triangle locations?

Residential Neighborhood Trash Dumping

Residential trash dumping is a major source of street trash. This post examines Philly311 data for one south Philadelphia block to shown the chronic nature of residential trash dumping and to demonstrate how Philadelphia can use existing data resources to identify and tackle our trash problem.

S 19th & Hoffman Streets

The vacant lot on the NW corner of S 19th & Hoffman Streets has proven to be a chronic residential trash dumping site. Philly311 has recorded 53 Illegal Dumping Service Requests for this intersection since Dec., 2015, when the City started the current Philly311 system.

This Google StreetView from June, 2011 shows that this intersection is no stranger to illegal dumping. Notice the trash pile on the right side of the image from 6 years ago.

The following 12 photos are some  of the photos submitted to Philly311 by Philadelphia residents between February 7 and April 5, 2017.

Click any photo to start slideshow:


These photos demonstrate that the Hoffman & S 19th Streets area has a longstanding, chronic residential trash dumping problem that has not been effectively addressed.

  • Philly311 recorded and processed illegal dumping service requests for S 19th & Hoffman Streets 53 times
  • Streets Department dispatched crews to remove residential trash dumping multiple times
  • Neither Philly311 or Streets Department recognized the repetitive nature of the S 19th & Hoffman Streets residential trash dumping
  • No assessment of the S 19th & Hoffman Streets trash problem was made
  • No corrective action plan was developed
  • No remedial action was undertaken

My Illegal Dumping Hot Spot Analysis (link) shows that Philadelphia has dozens of residential trash dumping sites like the S 19th & Hoffman Streets site.

Philadelphia has the data, both Philly311 service requests and Streets Department work requests to identify and address residential trash hot spots. Unfortunately, no one is using the existing data to identify and address the residential trash dumping issue. While it is important to clean up trash dump sites, we must add an identification and prevention strategy/capability if we hope to reduce future street trash.

The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet will be rolling out a new Litter Index database that will help tackle the City’s trash problem. My take-home message is that we need more than data to solve our trash problems, we need management processes to use the data to understand the causes of our trash problems, identify and take corrective actions and measure progress.

We need to assess our current trash collection policies and procedures:

  • Is City-wide once a week trash collection adequate?
  • Are there some neighborhoods that require more frequent trash collection? The S 19th & Hoffman Streets example shows that some areas need more frequent trash pickup.
  • Do we have adequate analytical capabilities in the Streets Department – Phill311 to identify chronic problem areas. The Police Department has an impressive Crime Stats capability that identifies problem areas and supports management efforts to adjust practices as needed. Philly311 and Streets Department need comparable capabilities.

Philadelphia’s 311 Data Shows That Philadelphians Hate Street Trash

Slide show on how we can use Philadelphia’s OpenDataPhilly 311 data to understand and solve our street trash problem.

Mapping District 8’s 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests

Philadelphia’s 311 system allows users to submit photos related to their service requests. Click on the map below or (link) to see the 304 photos for District 8 Illegal Dumping Service requests between 12/8/14 and 11/16/16.


You can view details of the Illegal Dumping Service Request by clicking on the black dot symbol for the service request.


By pressing the More info link, you can see the submitted illegal dumping image.


Philadelphia’s Open Data Can Help Tackle City’s Illegal Dumping

Philadelphia has an excellent open data program (link) and a very serious illegal dumping problem (link). I have previously written about how Philadelphia’s 311 open data can be used to pinpoint illegal dumping hot spots (here).

In this post I want to show how local community groups, concerned citizens and City agencies can use readily available city open data to assess illegal dumping in local areas. I’ll use 5 open data sets for this example:

  1. City 311 complaints (Dec., 2014 – Nov., 2016)
  2. Vacant Property Building Indicators (CSV – 11/16/16)
  3. Vacant Property Land Indicators (CSV – 11/16/16)
  4. CLIP Vacant Lot Cleanups (CSV – 2016)
  5. Landcare Program (CSV)

The 311 data file is quite large (over 1 million records)because it includes all City service requests, including information requests. The first step is to extract only those records of interest, in our case Illegal Dumping Service Requests.  I did this with a simple R script.

I use ESRI’s Arcmap 10.4 to do my GIS  work, including clipping to my geographic areas, District 8 and neighborhoods in District 8. Community groups could use a similar approach to subset into CDC areas, Police Districts, Council Districts, Planning District  or census tracts.

Here is a slideshow illegal dumping, CLIP cleanups, LandCare and Vacant Property Indicator Land & Buildings data for each of the 20 neighborhoods in District 8.

Here is a PDF   of the 20 maps.




Philadelphia’s 311 Data Helps Pinpoint District 8 Trash Problem Areas

Philadelphia, like many cities, has a 311 system that lets residents submit service requests for City services. Philadelphia’s OpenDataPhilly provides easy access to the City’s 311 service request data.

The 311 data is an excellent tool for assessing trash issues for several reasons:

  • Service requests include date, address and service request type
  • Latitude & longitude provided to assist in data mapping

I downloaded the OpenData Philly 311 data file (11/16/16 version) to assess how it could be used by neighborhood groups and others to assess trash trends  in their neighborhoods.

The raw data includes 1,127,523 records, a large data set for the period from 12/8/14 to 11/16/16. Since I am interested in trash, I prepared a data subset of just those service requests related to trash, 116,587 records,  10.3% of all the 311 records. I then extracted only those trash requests in District 8, 17,021 to allow me to study District 8 trash issues.

District 8 Trash Photos

Philadelphia’s 311 system allows users to submit photos, a significant advantage when assessing trash conditions.  242 trash photos are included in the District 8 311 trash records, here are a few examples:

District 8 Trash Service Requests

Here’s a summary of District 8’s 17,021 trash service requests by category:

  • Maintenance Residential & Commercial: 5,753
  • Rubbish/ Recyclable Collection:                  3,608
  • Illegal Dumping:                                                   3,420
  • Vacant Lot clean-up:                                            1,667
  • Vacant House:                                                         1,610
  • Sanitation/dumpster violation:                          768
  • Boarding Room House:                                          195

Illegal dumping is the 3rd most frequent 311 trash service request, after Maintenance Residential Commercial and Rubbish/Recyclable Collection calls. Clearly 8 residents are calling the City to report illegal dumping District 8. Neighborhood groups, CDCs and elected officials need to assess how we are handling the trash dumping issue, are we making progress or are we being inundated with a flood of illegal dumping. The 311 data can help us to understand the situation.


Philadelphia’s Vacant Property Indicators & Trash Dumping (updated 11/16/16)

(Original post 11/15 has been updated to reflect additional information provided by Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation & Technology)

OpenData Philly provides incredible open data resources to help citizens investigate some of our problems, including my interests in the relationship between trash dumping and vacant properties. The City has just announced the release of the Vacant Property Indicators list (link). This post discusses my  assessment of how the Vacant Property and Building Indicators can be used to identify potential vacant property and building related trash dumping hot sports.

I have been monitoring trash dumping in the 400 block of  E Price Street for several years. Here is one of my trash survey photos:

459 E Price St. - Abandoned house with long history of dumping. Cleaned up by Streets Dept many times

459 E Price St. – Abandoned house with long history of dumping. Cleaned up by Streets Dept many times

OpenData Philly‘s parcel, vacant property and building indicator shapefiles have allowed me to make this map which shows parcel boundaries as well as  vacant land and building indicators for the 400 block of E Price St.


The abandoned building with the trash dumping (459 E Price St.) and adjacent building are both in the City’s vacant building list;  the vacant lot at 447 E Price St is in the vacant property list.  This Google Street view of the 400 block of E Price St. shows the situation:


The City’s vacant property and vacant building indicators, ArcGIS or other GIS mapping tool and Google Street View provide neighborhood groups and concerned citizens a powerful set of tools that can help  them identify potential trash dumping hot spots.