Most of the Los Angeles city services that were shut down or curtailed during the pandemic have been restored. But one – street sweeping and sanitation – remains on partial lockdown.
In March 2021, the city cut street sweeping from weekly to twice per month, due to staff shortages. The lack of employees stemmed from a citywide hiring freeze due to the pandemic, and resulting loss of funds. But as the city has begun to recover financially, some departmemts are still struggling to hire staff. That includes the Department of Public Works.
As a result, street services remain at a standstill.
“At this time, biweekly street sweeping will continue to be conducted,” department spokesman Paul Gomez said.
The reduction in street sweeping disproportionately affects South LA, where trash can remain on streets and in gutters for up to four weeks if a holiday falls on a scheduled service day.
In those cases, Gomez says residents can call 311 or use the “My LA 311” app to report excessive trash.
“The city proactively targets chronic illegal dumping locations, but the public can help by taking advantage of city services to report debris, bulky items, and other unwanted items on the street,” Gomez said.
But staffing shortages means that response time to these calls is slow, and there is no guarantee that a cleanup would be made before the next scheduled sweep. In less-affluent areas of the city, is common to see trash in the streets for weeks.
Another growing by-product of roadway neglect is the appearance of weeds and grass in street cracks, curb crevices, and along sidewalks. The growths range from small patches to long stretches that would need a mower or a hedge trimmer to remove.
Residents have taken to spraying gutters in front of their own homes with weed killer to remove the unsightly mess – in some instances, including sprouting palm trees. But weed growth in medians, and even on main thoroughfares, remains.
With street repaving a slow, years-long endeavor, and city hiring still stagnated, Los Angeles may continue to look like a weed jungle for quite some time.
Jacy Hanes is a freelance journalist for 2UrbanGirls.com.