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Here Come the Citations: New City Law Helps Step Up Enforcement of Illegal Dumping

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The most commonly committed environmental crime in Los Angeles is illegal dumping and littering. For the Bureau of Street Services (BSS), it's a $12 million problem, but that doesn't include the money spent by business improvement districts, the parks department and other groups.

And to enforce the issue citywide, the city only has 35 full-time investigators (plus about 25 volunteer reserve officers), who have police powers and carry handcuffs and all law enforcement weapons except firearms. While job duties include enforcement of illegal dumping, they have 105 other city ordinances to police -- regulating the movement of overload trucks and monitoring illegal streets sales like pirated movies, to name two -- and a number of state laws.

Before, the only way to cite and arrest someone for illegal dumping -- it's a misdemeanor -- was to catch them in the act and involve the city attorney's office for criminal prosecution. Now a new city ordinance allows investigators to hold illegal dumpers accountable through an administrative process where citations can be made without involving the city attorney's office (think parking tickets). And as an added bonus, the public can be enlisted to help out.