LA City Council Raises Fines For Littering PPE

Two disposable latex gloves left in a Target shopping cart in Eagle Rock. A new motion passed by the L.A. City Council raises the fine for littering this kind of PPE in public spaces. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)

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The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion this week to raise the fine for littering personal protective equipment trash, like masks and gloves.

The penalty for littering everyday garbage in L.A. is $200, according to Councilman Bob Blumenfield's office, but this measure would increase the fine to $250, the maximum amount for an infraction in the city. Blumenfield introduced the motion.

"Right now, you can go to any supermarket and if you stand out there for 15 minutes, I guarantee you're going to see someone come out, take their masks or gloves off, and throw them on the ground," Blumenfield told LAist.

A child-sized mask left in the parking lot of Eagle Rock Plaza. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)

We took the councilmember up on that challenge.

At the parking lot of Eagle Rock Plaza in Northeast L.A., we didn't see anyone actively litter, but discarded PPE wasn't hard to find. Disposable blue latex gloves languished in the child seat of a Target shopping cart. A used child-sized mask featuring Disney characters baked on the asphalt.

Ruth Lee was stocking up on camping supplies at the shopping center and noticed the PPE trash.

"I usually like to pick up trash and throw trash out, but I don't want to touch other people's masks and gloves. I think it's unsanitary," Lee said.

While the PPE debris has made Lee less willing to clean up after others, she isn't optimistic about the new fines changing anyone's behavior as far as not littering — or even the possibility that more people will be caught in the act of littering.

"I've never seen anyone dispose of it personally," Lee said. "People litter. I don't know how you're going to catch this."

Blumenfield said he understands that concern, and doesn't expect most people littering to be caught in the act.

"There's no way, with everything going on in Los Angeles, that there's going to be this 'PPE litter police' out there watching everybody," Blumenfield said. "But people need to know that there is a consequence."

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