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Dear LAist: How Do I Clean Up My Neighborhood?

A woman picks up trash off a highway. (Photo: Virginia Department of Transportation/Flickr Creative Commons)
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What do you do when the street you call home is in some desperate need of TLC?

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If you're LAist reader Andrea Snyder, you reach out for help. She asked LAist for tips on how she could clean up her Highland Park neighborhood -- without getting arrested for trespassing.

"The owners of my apartment deserve credit for maintaining the buildings' landscaping, but many areas of the neighborhood are neglected and near hazardous," she said.

Snyder said her neighbors don't have the resources to launch their own cleanup campaign, and the idea of doing it herself feels overwhelming. But she hopes a neighborhood cleanup would leave them feeling inspired and recharged to do more.

So where to start?

L.A.'s Office of Beautification -- part of the city's Department of Public Works -- hosts cleanups all around the city. You can check their events calendar on their website to see whether there's already one in the works that you can join.

Looking for a specific neighborhoods? You can find cleanups in your neighborhood council's calendar. (Find your neighborhood council here.)

Still coming up empty? It really is possible to host your own. And knowing the laws helps; trespassing in California is illegal and may even result in arrest. Trespassing is defined as entering a property without permission with intention to interfere with the property. A simple precaution is avoiding private property altogether.

How to Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup

1. Start gathering volunteers and cleaning supplies! You can do so by reaching out to your neighborhood council and attending meetings. You can even request help with funding the supplies needed in the cleanup. (You can find information on your neighborhood council here.)

Contact your Office of Community Beautification representative for your council district for more resources -- you can fill out a form on their website to request tools like rakes, trash bags and even paint supplies. Find your representative here.

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2. Start planning the route and/or location for the cleanup, with input from your volunteers. If you need additional supplies like snacks, water or extra tools, consider reaching out to local businesses along the route to see if they can help.

3. Time for the cleanup! It's best to schedule them for the morning before the heat becomes unbearable. Have bottles of water and snacks for your volunteers, and remember: safety first.

Remember to bring hats, gloves, closed-toed shoes and sunscreen -- and remind volunteers to do the same. As a reminder, make sure any children participating are under adult supervision.

4. Make sure to contact your local officials about dumping locations. If there are bulky items or dead animals that need to be picked up, you can submit a service request to the city via the 311 service.

Pro tip: Promote, promote, promote! Spread the word about your cleanup through social media, flyers and word of mouth. Your neighborhood council and Office of Community Beautification representative can also help get the word out.

Looking for other ways to pretty up your neighborhood? Start a community garden! If you know of a vacant location or would like to search for one, contact Los Angeles Community Garden Council for help on how to plant that seed.

If you have more questions about getting involved in your neighborhood, ask us about it here.

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