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Garcetti wants to recruit neighborhood 'scouts' to report trash buildups

Mayor Eric Garcetti  wants to build a corps of hundreds of Los Angeles residents to monitor their neighborhoods for trash and illegal dumping, he said Thursday.

He calls the prospective volunteers "clean street scouts" whose trash reports would enable the city Bureau of Sanitation to send crews to clean up the worst messes quickly.

The mayor spoke to reporters about his Clean Streets Initiative in an alley behind Birmingham Avenue in the Pico-Union neighborhood that had become a magnet for trash dumpers. A year ago, it was buried in garbage so deep it sometimes blocked residents' vehicles.

"There was a lot of trash, and homeless people" in the alley behind her home in the Pico Union district, said resident Carla Cardona.

A crew cleaned the alley about a year ago and it has remained mostly clean since then, she said. Some 13 tons of garbage was hauled away, Garcetti said.

The pilot project that spawned that alley cleanup was undertaken in Councilman Gil Cedillo's First District. It assigned extra cleaning teams to problem dumping areas. The mayor said he hopes to replicate its success citywide. 

The mayor's $9 million proposal, if approved by the City Council, would add five inspectors to roam the city grading the cleanliness of the streets. The resulting Cleanliness Index would be used as a baseline that could serve to measure the success of additional cleaners, including three new 10-person Bureau of Sanitation "strike teams" who would act as rapid response crews to clean up illegal dumping. The project would also add 1,200 new trash cans to city streets.

The volunteers are a key part of the program, forming a kind of neighborhood watch for trash. You can sign up online to volunteer for the job,

"These are Angelenos who can engage our neighborhood councils to serve as block captains to get their neighborhoods clean and keep them that way," Garcetti said.

City stats say the Bureau of Sanitation has a 96 percent success rate hauling away big items by the next regular trash pickup day once they're reported.