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Some Streets in L.A. Go More Than a Year Without Being Cleaned

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(Photo by Chris via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Los Angeles has seemingly been devoting lots of resources to its streets lately, between its annual Great Streets makeover challenge to its relentless promotion of CicLAvia to its billion-dollar sidewalk repair program. But not all streets are created equal, and it turns out some of them don’t get cleaned nearly as frequently as others do.

Just a third of the city’s 13,891 curb miles of public streets are attended to by motorized street sweepers every week, while the remaining two-thirds are only swept when resources allow, according to an audit released Wednesday by L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin. The report estimates that the streets without posted street sweeping signs, or the city’s vast majority, might go more than a year without ever being cleaned by the city.

Not only that, but the 4,692 curb miles that do get cleaned with some regularity — those with posted street sweeping signs — are disproportionately concentrated in various regions of the city. The Bay Harbor and North Central areas (which cover most of central Los Angeles and Long Beach) get the majority of street sweepers’ attention, whereas the East and West Valleys are mostly out of luck (why are we not surprised that the Valleys get dissed even when it comes to street sweeping?). Just 14 percent of streets in the West Valley and 19 percent of streets in the East Valley have posted street sweeping signs and get cleaned on a regular basis, the audit shows.

Budget cuts are largely to blame for the oversight: The city’s Bureau of Street Services cut its staff by more than half after the last recession, and on top of that, street sweeping only accounts for 7 percent of its annual operating budget. It doesn’t help that the city’s designated routes for street sweeping haven’t changed in decades, according to the audit, which was addressed to Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Michael Feuer, and members of the City Council.

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The City Controller’s office has some ideas about how to fix the problem, even on a shoestring budget. Its report recommends that the Bureau of Street Services reevaluate its routes to determine whether some streets should be cleaned less frequently in order to prioritize others that virtually never see a street sweeper. To help with this, Galperin suggested the city upgrade its technology by pulling data from GPS and using smartphone apps to optimize its cleaning routes and schedules.