The Garbage Problem at Skid Row and City Hall
The Black Plague of the 1300s, transmitted by infected fleas attached to vermin, claimed millions of lives across Europe, erasing whole villages and towns. Until that time, organized municipal garbage collection didn’t exist. (Either did plumbing or flush toilets.) England, according to the history books, was the first nation to devote dedicated crews to picking up garbage — the main source of rat infestations. By 1388, unauthorized waste dumping on public streets was made illegal.
For more than 600 years, miscreants have flouted laws against littering, including successful businesses who’d rather save money on collection fees than spend a little more and prevent disease. Take, for instance, many of the businesses surrounding Skid Row in Los Angeles, where tens of thousands of people live on the sidewalks. Numerous media outlets have documented the immense amount of illegally dumped trash on and around Skid Row, deposited there by greedy “entrepreneurs” confident that the humans they’re hurting don’t have the power to protect themselves.
That’s where The Proper Authorities come in, right? Politicians, police, clean-up crews — all organized and executed by The City of Los Angeles, where the rotting food and mice befoul our streets.
Alas, when it comes to homelessness, our civic leaders, chief among them Mayor Eric Garcetti, are too busy ushering luxury real estate developments through the approval process to have time for a worsening humanitarian crisis. In October of 2018, when presented with video evidence of the criminal squalor, the Mayor, who has a peculiar talent for making solemn vows and forgetting to fulfill them, pledged the filthy dumping would come to an end. Within 90 days.
Imagine this going on for three months in, say, Westwood, or Studio City. Would a quarter-year to end the trash heaps be acceptable?
Nonetheless, that was the deal. Garcetti said it would end. He’s said similar things about homelessness in general. The latest numbers? Seems the homeless population has grown in the past year. By 12% in Los Angeles County and 16% in the City of the Angels. According to this year’s tally, there are nearly 59,000 homeless in our county and 36,000 in our magnificently rich city.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that (way more than) 90 days have passed and illegal dumping hasn’t ended on Skid Row. It’s gotten worse. There are many reasons for this travesty. Sure, it’s a minor inconvenience that one of Garcetti’s appointments to the Board of Public Works, which oversees the Department of Sanitation — the folks who clean our streets — is currently under investigation by the FBI for soliciting “donations” (mind you, not “bribes”) from real estate developers. But here’s the main reason: Many of the business in the Skid Row area simply don’t have a contract for garbage service. Too expensive, apparently. Much cheaper to dump it on or around the least fortunate members of our society.
To date, no one’s been fined, jailed or even publicly reprimanded.
It’s business as usual in Los Angeles, where the annual budget is more than $10 billion and 50,000+ people collect a paycheck from the City. There still aren’t enough toilets near Skid Row; the City still hasn’t built a single unit of housing with the $1.2 billion Measure HHH bonds voters authorized three years ago; and the FBI is investigating pay-to-play deals involving members of the City Council and Garcetti’s cronies. Meanwhile, as illegal evictions provide a smooth path for more luxury hotels and condos, the City’s poorest residents get showered with garbage.
Which raises another question: Is it too late for Eric Garcetti to run for President?