Leaders seek ways to resume neighborhood cleanups as trash piles up during pandemic

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, Long Beach residents have seen an increase in trash piling up citywide, particularly around freeway ramps, according to Councilman Rex Richardson.

Closures in the wake of the global health crisis impacted Long Beach city services, including some cleaning operations.

According to a memo from Richardson’s office reports, the impact of this crisis has affected services carried out by other government agencies, including the suspension of “Right of Way” clean ups by the California Department of Transportation.

The council will discuss an agenda item at Tuesday night’s council meeting to notify CalTrans and other Los Angeles County agencies to find ways within the current public health guidelines to resume neighborhood cleaning operations.

Richardson, who represents North Long Beach, said the pandemic shutdown brought on new challenges to city-agency partnerships that work together to keep the region clean.

“Our local guys are getting slammed,” Richardson said about the city’s clean up crews. “It’s getting more challenging to do clean ups due to sick leave and schedule changes. Some agencies have stopped doing them completely.”

Richardson said community clean up events took place every week in North Long Beach, and that’s no longer the case.

Joni Ricks-Oddie, vice president of the Deforest Park Neighborhood Association, said her nonprofit ceased all clean ups since the health orders went into effect.

The council will also discuss ways to resume neighborhood cleaning operations, such as the Long Beach Neighborhood Clean Up program, which provides material and supplies to community and volunteer groups looking to improve the appearance of their neighborhoods.

“This is a citywide thing,” he said. “I’ve heard similar issues from every other councilmember.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.