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Why Is There Illegal Dumping in South LA? It's Not that Easy to Report

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Photo by wools via Flickr

Photo by wools via Flickr
Seven months after the LA Times did a report on South LA's illegal dumping problem, they've found not much has changed. The city says service is getting faster, but the problem persists.

Part of the problem, in our opinion, is that reporting illegal dumping is not streamlined. Currently, the system set up to report it is an inefficient use of city employee resources and is timely for a resident. A call to 3-1-1, the supposedly the one all to city hall, tells the story. Paraphrased, here's how our conversation went down:

"Hello, 3-1-1, how may I help you?" "Do I report illegal dumping to you?"

"No, depending on what it is--debris or furniture--your report it to street services or sanitation."

"What if it is both?"

"Then you have to call both offices and report it."

So what's wrong with this? A few things:
  • Street Services and Sanitation are functions of the same department--Public Works. So why are there different numbers and operators for illegal dumping?
  • Sending a resident to an operator beyond 3-1-1 is timely, especially if you have to call two operators at different numbers and wait on hold with each (we tested it out today, four minutes on hold for street services and nine minutes on hold for sanitation).
  • Additionally, both offices are not open 24-7. If you want to report illegal debris to Street Services (800-996-2489), they are only open from 7 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. If you are reporting illegally dumped furniture, operators at Sanitation (800-773-2489) work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And all through this, 3-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, but they can't help you with this city service.
  • Lastly, Public Works has set up an easy-to-use online reporting graffiti website. You report graffiti, they e-mail you a confirmation that the request has been received and then e-mail a follow up to let you know the graffiti has been removed. Online forms are not that hard to make, yet residents needing to report illegal dumping only have one option: call during business hours.
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The LA Times video report: