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Citizens Against Litter

July 2014 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Goats are coming to Polish Hill; "We're watching you"; 3rd Connequenessing Creek cleanup August 23; October 18 Redd Up signups moving along; "Dear Shadyside business owners"; Zero litter enforcement urged; Sign up for a Redd Up zone; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Brew with Boris; The last word

Our mission

Our mission is to inspire people throughout the city and region to collect litter and connect neighborhoods.

Goats are coming to Polish Hill

From the Polish Hill Newsletter:

Tree Pittsburgh will be doing a tree restoration project in West Penn Park, along the south side of Brereton St., where overgrown vines are slowly killing the trees. For the first phase of the project, a herd of goats will be brought in on Monday, July 7 to clear the land in the section of the park hillside nearest 30th St. The area will be fenced in and the goats will graze for one day. After the area is cleared, volunteers will maintain the area over the summer. Seventy-five to eighty new trees will be planted in the fall.

3rd Connoquenessing Creek cleanup August 23

Christina Handley, President of Allegheny Aquatic Alliance, writes in with an update:

Summer is upon us and plans are being made for this year's cleanup! We hope to gain your support again for this important community project. This precious waterway was rated the 2nd most polluted waterway in America in 2000. So far we have removed 85,000 pounds of garbage, including 900 tires in just 20 miles! Your support contributed to the success of our cleanup mission.

As with the previous years continuation of this vital cleanup relies on volunteers, financial support, and in-kind donations of non-motorized boats, pickup trucks, etc. And this summer's cleanup requires even more support since Vogel is no longer able to donate their disposal services. It is on Saturday August 23, and we are focusing on a 15 mile stretch starting at the Butler Athletic Field and ending at the Forward Township Baseball field in Butler County. Please let me know if you are interested in contributing in any capacity. The more support we have, the more garbage we can remove! Thank you for your time and consideration.

"We're watching you"

(Allegheny CleanWays information worth repeating from the June Newslitter.)

Beware would-be dumper...we're watching you! So far two dumpers have been caught this year thanks to surveillance cameras purchased with a grant from the Allegheny County Conservation District and donated to the City of Pittsburgh. As a result of the success of these initial cameras, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has donated three additional sets of cameras to the city. The high quality, motion activated, covert security cameras provide instant wireless transmission of site activity, photo documentation of license plates at speeds of up to 50 MPH, and clear photos of activity day or night, which are key to prosecutions. We are so grateful for the cameras and for the collaborative effort by everyone involved. Our collective goal is to send a clear message that illegal dumping will not be tolerated in our beautiful city.

October 18 Redd Up signups moving along

Mark your calendars for the fall Redd Up with Pitt Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 18.

Thousands of Pitt student volunteers have been involved with city neighborhoods and area communities in litter cleanups and beautification projects since 2008. Early signups are:

Pittsburgh: Academy System, Allegheny County Probation Court, Allegheny CleanWays, Allentown, Arlington, Bedford Dwellings, Beechview, Bloomfield, Bon Air, Brighton Heights, Brookline, Bull Elephants, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, Central North Side, CMU, Chartiers, Duquesne Heights, Duquesne Univerisity, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fairywood, Friendship, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Hays, Hazelwood, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Lincoln-Lemington, Lincoln Place, Lower Hill, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Morningside, Mt. Washington, New Homestead, Pittsburgh Parks, Pitt-Ohio Express, Perry South, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Polish Hill, Oakland, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Oakland, Spring Hill, Stanton Heights, Strip District, Swisshelm Park and Windgap.

Allegheny County: Brentwood, Collier, Dormont, Duquesne, East McKeesport, Etna, Forest Hills, Friends of South Park, Friends of North Park, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Leetsdale, Millvale, McKees Rocks, Mt. Lebanon, Munhall, New Kensington, North Versailles, Penn Hills, Port Vue, Ross, Shadyside Academy, Sharpsburg, South Park, Stowe, West View and Wilkinsburg.

"Dear Shadyside business owners"

District 8 City Councilman Dan Gilman wrote a letter addressed as above on June 11, reminding business owners of their responsibilities for cleaning litter, including cigarette butts from sidewalks and street gutters fronting their businesses. It was a friendly reminder with no mention of City Code 419.09 that requires their actions.

On June 18, Mr. Letterman -- impressed with the lack of litter and butts on Walnut Street -- imagined how nice it would be if business districts all over the city were as litter free. To be more specific, Mr. Letterman walked both sides of the 4-block Walnut Street business district COUNTING CIGARETTE BUTTS. He counted only 600 butts. We can attribute the lack of storefront butt litter to (1) Councilman Gilman's letter or (2) the positive actions of business owners without reminder letters or (3) less littering (and less smoking) by the public in Shadyside.

Business storefront litter is one of the four major causes of extreme litter in our city along with everyday litter everywhere, illegal dumpsites and business and residential overflowing and insufficient garbage and waste containers.

The possible eventual cure of our problem may well be in a one-neighborhood test of a Zero Litter Enforcement Program. The program is detailed below. The city's focus on enforcement is the key and may be the answer. Let's find out.

Zero litter enforcement urged

It's time is overdue. Last January the Peduto Transition Committee selected Zero Litter Enforcement (in a one neighborhood pilot) as a program to be considered for roll out by the new administration. Here are the details submitted by the Public Works Subcommittee. Boris Weinstein and Citizens Against Litter first introduced the plan in an editorial opinion piece published in the Post-Gazette 14 months ago.

Subcommittee Name: Public Works

Subcommittee Chairperson(s): Jessica McCurdy

Title of recommendation: Zero Litter Enforcement Pilot Program

Describe the recommendation:

Focus energy and resources in a one neighborhood Pilot Program initially aimed at the FOUR ROOT CAUSES of litter in Pittsburgh.

  1. Illegal dumps

  2. Uncovered and inadequate waste containers at business places and multiple and single dwelling residences

  3. Storefront businesses and property owners who do not clean litter, trash, graffiti and leaves from their properties regularly and ignore removing snow and ice from sidewalks (city code 419.09)

  4. Everyday litter

Is this an immediate or long term recommendation?

Both immediate and long term as noted below. We believe strongly in doing an initial pilot program in one neighborhood in order to work through the initial barriers and end up with a design that works. Then we would roll out that design to other communities as noted below.

Immediate: The Zero Litter Committee (Boris Weinstein, Missy Rosenfeld and Jan Nedin) would benchmark other cities and their successes in this arena. We would propose best practices to be used in the pilot.

There would be three phases to the pilot program:

Phase One would be one neighborhood. The test would be no less than 6 months or as long as one year.

Phase Two would introduce a second and third neighborhood, also for a 6 month to one year test. Neighborhoods in this phase would be from other Council Districts. Meanwhile, the program in Phase One would continue.

In Phase Three one neighborhood from each of the other six Council Districts would enter the test, also for 6 months to one year.

Long term: Within three years a city wide Zero Litter Enforcement Program would be rolled out.

How will this address our challenges or reach our goals?

At the start of the test, a Situation Analysis Report would set specific goals of the program: such things as the number of illegal dumpsites to be visited and monitored by police regularly, the number of retail businesses and the frequency of monitoring visits by police and/or Public Works, the number of rental apartments and monitoring visits regularly by BBI; the count and location of uncovered waste containers (business and residential) and the monitoring frequency by BBI, Public Works and Environmental Services.

Additionally, the Situation Analysis Pre-Test Report would highlight existing ordinances for illegal dumping, prohibiting business and residential uncovered waste containers, spelling out what's expected of storefront owners/businesses to keep their properties clean, and against individual littering.

At the conclusion of the first test, results would be measured against goals and existing ordinance expectation.

It may be necessary to add new codes and update existing ones, unless this cannot be achieved in a timely manner causing a delay in starting the Pilot Program.

What are the obstacles to implementation?

Getting directors and supervisors to make litter a top priority.

Director and supervisor concerns about ability to implement a new program with limited resources.

Gaining buy-in and cooperation from authorities.

Gaining buy-in from magistrates.

Selecting only one neighborhood for a pilot and asking others to wait to receive program benefits.

Who needs to be involved?

City Council, Mayor's Office, Public Safety, BBI, Public Works, URA, PWSA and city magistrates.

What city resources need to be invested?

Dedicated department manpower.

Printed materials and signage to publicize pilot program.

Purchase cameras for illegal dumps to catch contractors and others in the act.

Possible standardized, lidded waste containers as used in other cities.

What will be different if the recommendation is adopted?

There will be an immediate decrease in the amount of new litter and trash in cleaned up dumps, streets in business district will have less litter, uncovered and overflow waste containers will be reduced, "flyaway trash" will be reduced.

Describe any background materials that you consulted

Allegheny CleanWays has been a good sources for numbers of illegal sites and locations

Redd Up programs in most city neighborhoods have familiarized us with local situations

Public Works district supervisors and Environmental Services have been good sources of conditions in neighborhoods

Have other cities implemented this recommendation?

Baltimore is in the process of pushing a "Lid Law".

Cincinnati has had a waste container cover-up program to harness "flyaway trash" since the 1990s.

We would research best practices in other cities.

Are there any other considerations?

Although most neighborhoods are involved with twice a year Redd Ups and more neighborhoods have Redd Ups on a more frequent basis, removal of everyday litter will not alone control our litter problems. Monitoring illegal dumps, dealing with the open waste container problem and interfacing with business district storefront owners to reduce street litter are necessary to get a positive handle on the root cause of litter.

This could also be expanded to other types of pickup such as leaf and electronics removal, i.e. other kinds of "litter" that end up polluting the landscape.

Mobile apps can be used by residents to report and address litter and dumpsite problems. (http://www.trashout.me/)

Share your comments. E-mail info@citizensagainstlitter.org or boris.weinstein@verizon.net. Share your comments with our new mayor. E-mail bill.peduto@pittsburghpa.gov.

Sign up for a Redd Up Zone

Looking for a worthwhile neighborhood project? Businesses, corporations and groups are invited to adopt their own Pittsburgh street or zone and agree to pick up litter at least four times a year for the next two years. For information call 412-255-2280 or e-mail servepgh@pittsburghpa.gov.

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Dan Davis invites citizens to be proactive and call the Postal Service at 412-359-7845 to report mailbox tagging or boxes in need of repair. Help the postal service by giving them specific information of locations and crossing streets.

"I Litter" awards

Advertising and promotional materials turn into litter in Shadyside and elsewhere. Businesses and sometimes non-profits are often responsible when they put their business on Shadyside streets. There's less of this going on. June's top litter is the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra followed by LA Fitness and Pesaro's Pizza.

Garbagevilles

Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets and places that are a mess. Some because of litter; some because of unswept leaves; some because of trash and junk on their property. Some because garbage cans sit in the front of their houses. Many because of the absence of lids on garbage cans and open waste containers. Some of these Garbagevilles in Shadyside are always a mess. This is an incomplete list of course.

Important phone numbers

Need to contact the city about something that's been bothering you, like potholes and graffiti? Call the 311 Response line (alternate number is 412-255-2621). Your request will be logged and sent to the proper department. Want to contact someone directly? The following list may help.

Brew with Boris

Mr. Litterman's retirement neighborhood swing is underway. In June, Boris had a cup of coffee on the backyard porch of Clean Pittsburgh Steward Ben and Megan Soltesz of Spring Hill. The view of Downtown and Mt. Washington from there is breathtaking. The view got even better when Ben and Boris visited a high-on-the-hill cemetery, one of the highest elevations in the city.

The following day Boris was picking up litter on re-made Brookline Boulevard and stopped in at Cannon's Coffee Shop where he had a glass of ice tea with Clean Pittsburgh Stewards Keith and Lynne Knecht. The Knechts took Boris to the cleaned up "once-but-hopefully-never-again" illegal dump on Edgebrooke Ave. Allegheny CleanWays' Dumpbusters did a magnificent job, removing thousands of tires and ancient trash over many months, including the winter.

The last word

Remember. Rome wasn't redd up in a day either.

Recent Litter-ature

A complete list of past Litterature is available in our archives.


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