Trash is a controversial topic around here I have learned and I am still educating myself about all the issues that come into play with regards to this in Skid Row.
As a starting point I should say that the CCEA (Central City East Association) is doing a magnificent job of trash collecting daily within the parts of Skid Row that they do cover. But, they do not currently cover all of Skid Row and therein lies the problem.
What is interesting to me (as a burgeoning neighborhood beautification person) is that the “safe and clean” (trash pick up and safety officers) portion of the 2010 CCEA budget was a whopping 74% of total expenses. Up until last year, the budget for anything tree-related was 0%. This, I understand is because of the overwhelming needs of trash removal and safety concerns. No complaints here on their efforts. Looking towards the future though, Skid Row sure would begin to look a lot more beautiful if there was less trash and more trees, period. For the 2011 CCEA budget, it looks like trees will make their debut into the budget (yay!). For this I am thankful. I would like this trend to continue, but obstacles remain.
A place where I think dialog is beginning to really pay off is with the various groups that visit Skid Row weekly to pass out free food and clothing. These groups, motivated by care and concern for the people of Skid Row, come to the neighborhood on their own time and pass out clothes, or quantities of food, like sandwiches wrapped in paper or plastic, or hot meals in Styrofoam containers or on papers plates with plastic forks, paper napkins, etc. Their hearts are clearly in the right place and I have learned many of the people who do this have been doing so for decades. My request is that they would consider the trash issue. They often if not always leave piles of garbage on the street corners in the misguided notion that it is going to get picked up soon after they leave. If they are leaving trash behind in the Toy District, there is no regular trash pickup there, so the garbage ends up getting blown about and scattered all over the streets. I am including a picture of what our neighborhood looks like when this happens –and it happens all the time. When I have approached these individuals about the “trash issue”, I usually find that they honestly hadn’t thought about it. I’m not ready to condemn people coming down here giving away free food. Quite the contrary, I admire them for considering those less fortunate than themselves. I think this is really just a matter of education and communication and I think when more people realize the trash situation, we’ll all be able to cooperate to help the people of Skid Row, AND keep our streets clean of all this extra garbage. And if all this generates more dialogue and interest in tree plantings, all the better! I’m including some excerpts from a recent article on this subject for further information.
(Excerpted from a Los Angeles Times article titled, “Not all welcome skid row charity”) September 12, 2010|By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
“These folks don’t know what happens when they leave,” said Joseph, who as senior lead officer is a liaison to the community. “We’ve had people get stabbed after fighting over clothes. We’ve had people get sick after eating their food. It’s just dangerous and irresponsible.”
…Discarded food also attracts rats, cockroaches and pigeons, said Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Assn., which represents property owners and local businesses, including plants that process and store frozen seafood….Some groups clean up after themselves, but she said others leave bags of bread or clothing on the curb….Lopez said city sanitation trucks do not service businesses and apartment blocks, so her association spends about $470,000 a year picking up litter off the streets, emptying trash cans and paying a private contractor to haul the waste to a dump. In the section of skid row that is not covered by her association, some residents have banded together to form their own volunteer street cleaning service called Operation Facelift.