Philadelphia’s City council Environment committee held a hearing on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. The hearing, chaired by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, had panels on Safety, Water, Air and trash Litter.
I had the privilege to testify on trash – litter. Here is pdf file on my testimony.
Trash dumping is a quality of life issue that needs to be addressed City wide.
Center City Philadelphia is an example of what can be done when trash dumping – litter control is a priority. All City residents deserve to live in trash free areas whether they happen to live within a business improvement district or on a quiet residential street.
The trash dumping- litter problem is clear, we need leadership by City Council to begin to turn the corner and restore our neighborhoods to the trash free conditions we see in Center City.
Philadelphia’s Trash Dumpers
There are 4 types of trash dumpers in Philadelphia:
- Construction – Commercial Trash Dumpers dump their bulky trash along the sides of low traffic roads, in or near parks so that they can avoid costs of proper trash disposal
- Residential Trash Dumpers with excess trash that they do not store until trash day. They often overload trash receptacles, forcing the City to reduce the number of trash receptacles, worsening the problem
- Property owners who do not properly maintain their property and sidewalks in litter free conditions
- Litterers who drop their trash in the sidewalk, street or someone else’s property as they drive or walk through a neighborhood
Each type of trash dumper must be addressed separately because the reason they dump – litter, the nature of the material, the locations and the necessary cleanup efforts all vary. We must tailor our corrective actions to the individual types of dumpers.
City Council’s Trash Role
Philadelphia’s City Council sets the tone for tackling trash dumping – litter problem through the City code and the budgeting process. Long term improvements require systematic and comprehensive action by City Council.
City Council needs to address 3 aspects of trash dumping control: Prevention, Enforcement, Removal. This list provides examples of actions that City Council should consider to address the City’s growing trash dumping – litter problem.
- Reduce potential litter by instituting plastic bag fee or ban, bottle deposit law, Styrofoam food container ban
- Provide City trash receptacles in heavily traveled, littered areas
- Require businesses and landlords to effectively manage their potential trash generation:
- Require outside private litter baskets for all food merchants
- Require adequate trash storage areas for all rental units
- Restrictive licenses for tire dealers
- Control circular and free newspaper distribution
- Require home improvement and other contractors to show proof of proper construction debris disposal in order to get certificates of occupancy and other approvals from L&I
- Require garbage disposals in rental units, organic recycling, cigarette butt receptacles in all new rental properties and businesses.
- Increase litter – dumping fines with cost escalation for repeat offenders
- Increase illegal dumping camera monitoring resources and focus on problem areas
- Increase Police dumping investigation and enforcement resources
- Provide Second trash collection in dense, high litter areas
- Expand drop-off centers
- Restore Citywide street cleaning.
Here’s a quick trash photo survey of N 9th and Nobel Streets that I took on Saturday, January 3rd. This corner is a little less than 1 mile from City Hall.
1. Map of N 9th & Noble Streets
2. Illegal Dumping and Trash Filled Inlet
3. Trash Along N 9th Street
4. Trash Along Noble Street
Street and stormwater litter conditions vary across the City, with the TTF and Cobbs Creeks having the worst creek trash problems while the Pennypack and Wissahickon Creeks having less creek trash.
This map, prepared with ESRI’s ArcMap, shows the incidence of 2013 litter Code Violation Notices for the 5 small creek watersheds in Philadelphia.
Clearly, the Tacony-Frankford and Cobbs Creek watersheds have much more serious litter conditions than than the Wissahickon and Pennypack Creek watersheds.