LOS ANGELES — A city website rating the cleanliness of streets and alleys across Los Angeles identified neighborhoods in South Los Angeles, Wilmington, East Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley as among those most in need of sprucing up.
Mayor Eric Garcetti joined City Council members and city sanitation officials to unveil the CleanStat assessment system, which follows a similar data-based approach as the police department’s CompStat method.
The city uses dashcam video and a geographic information mapping system to catalog and assess the cleanliness of streets, alleys and sidewalks. Sanitation workers have already graded nearly 40,000 sites in recent months and will update the database every three months.
Information on areas that have been graded is available to the public at www.cleanstreetsla.org.
Areas are graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being the cleanest and 3 being the dirtiest. The grades are then shown on a map available on the website that shows streets with a 1 grade in green, a 2 grade in yellow and a 3 grade in red. The map shows patches of red across the city, but southern areas of Los Angeles clearly have a concentration of streets in need of cleaning.
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents Council District 8 in South Los Angeles, said that he “cannot express to folks more than they already know how personal and how integral it is to grow up in a neighborhood that’s always dirty.”
“Because after awhile you grow up believing that the neighborhood is dirty because of you and your neighborhood is dirty because you don’t deserve a clean neighborhood, and some other people in another neighborhood do deserve a clean neighborhood,” he said.
According to the database, 61 percent of the streets rated so far are considered clean, while 35 percent fell in the middle category of somewhat clean, and 4 percent were unclean.
Garcetti said it may seem like the city is doing well since 96 percent of its streets are fairly clean, but the 4 percent of dirty streets is still significant, since it equates to 376 miles or running a marathon each day for two weeks and seeing only streets filled with trash.
“No one should have to live anywhere with an underpass that’s crowded with an old mattress and furniture, or to pick up fast food trays from your stoop when you get home after a long day at work,” he said.
He also noted during a demonstration that the map highlights dirty streets that are two miles of a school, and can be used to track trends, such as illegal dumping “hotspots.”
“We’ll be able to send clean-up crews to these chronic dumping sites and ramp up enforcement efforts … to stop this illegal activity,” he said.
Garcetti said providing clean streets is a critical complement to bigger-picture municipal issues such as the minimum wage, homelessness and the Los Angeles River.
“None of the big things matter if we don’t feel good about where we live,” Garcetti said, adding that the city needs to do a better job of responding to basic needs.
He said Los Angeles is the first city in the nation to collect such extensive information about the cleanliness of its streets. As part of the survey, city officials will also look for evidence of illegal dumping and other violations contributing to dirty streets and alleys.
Councilman Gil Cedillo said clean streets may seem like a “modest” issue, but he witnessed the extent of the problem of trash while campaigning, and learned during town hall meetings that “everybody felt the same way … that our city was dirty.”
He particularly noted the problem of sofas and rugs being dumped on sidewalks and alleys, and in some cases it seemed like “the whole house was out on the sidewalk.”
“We will be the first city in the nation that utilizes metrics [for cleanliness] in the same way that makes us successful in fighting crime,” he said.