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VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES | Essay

L.A. Should Enforce Litter Laws

September 09, 2000|ANN BLUM | Ann Blum, a secretary, lives in Los Angeles

For the three decades I have lived here, I have waited for the litter law to be enforced. It seems that Angelenos just have accepted litter and graffiti as something we must live with. It isn't enough for the good-citizen volunteers to come around once a year and clean up after the lazy bums who litter. For those who litter, tossing something out the car window is a way of life and they know they can get away with it.

Just about anybody you talk to can tell you about the people who clean out their car ashtrays on the street, who throw a half-finished sandwich out the window of their car, who leave their empty bottles or food containers on the beach. It is more convenient to drop the candy wrapper in the street than to keep it with you until you can dispose of it properly.

You can pretty much tell the level of civility of the people living in an area by the amount of litter that accumulates in the storm drains and the number of abandoned animals running loose. I include animals because some humans treat them as though they are nothing but litter.

I was listening to talk radio one day and a student called in from one of the high schools where there had been clashes between two ethnic groups. The young man said that some of the students would eat lunch at the tables in the schoolyard, then get up and go back to class, leaving the mess behind. Well, that would certainly give me negative feelings about anyone who did that. What is wrong with the schools? Can't anyone open their mouths and say that behavior like that is wrong? Can't they teach them to have consideration for others and that littering will not be tolerated?

Neighborhoods are being ruined by graffiti etched in the glass windows of businesses and in bus shelters and anyplace else vandals can do their dirty work. It is not possible to walk a few feet without being assaulted by litter. I am tired of telling people not to litter when I see them litter, which I have been doing for years. I am tired of telling people to clean up after their dogs. I have gone to the restaurants in my neighborhood and talked to the managers about their employees who leave litter on the streets where they park their cars. I do not buy this business that the city does not have enough money to clean up. When it comes to a new sports stadium, there seems to be money. And plenty of money was available for the Democratic National Convention.

These are some of my suggestions:

Actively enforce the litter law. Take half of the employees off of the parking enforcement program, get them out of their cars and walking the streets, ticketing people for littering. Get the message out that people will be fined for littering.

All businesses should instruct their employees not to litter in the neighborhood or in any way destroy property.

Schools should enforce littering laws when they are broken on school property. Some time should be spent on teaching children to be good citizens.

Let's replace the ugliness with beauty. Just maybe L.A. will become a model city.

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