Operation Healthy Streets Removes Five Tons of Trash

On July 6 the City of Los Angeles ended Operation Healthy Streets, a comprehensive program to address public health risks in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. The program focused on eliminating hazards that posed immediate health threats to those encamped on the sidewalks of Skid Row, as well as to those who live and work in the community. It was started as a response to a report issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that identified the public health risks presented by the conditions on Skid Row. The Department of Public Works conducted an intensive, multi-week cleaning program that began in late June to remove health hazards such as hypodermic needles, human waste, rodent infestations and contaminated objects. The operation focused on a six-block section of Skid Row, bordered on the north by E. 5th Street, on the south by E. 7th Street, by Gladys Avenue on the east, and Wall Street on the west.

In total, the Operation Healthy Streets effort removed more than 81 cubic yards of waste water and close to five tons of refuse from downtown Los Angeles. “City workers cleaned up 278 hypodermic needles, 94 syringes, 60 razor blades, 10 knives and 11 items of drug paraphernalia,” stated Michelle Vargas, from the Department of Public Works, Public Affairs Office. “Two five-gallon buckets of feces and three similar-sized buckets of urine were also found and disposed of correctly,” continued Vargas. After the removal of all items from the affected public rights-of-ways, the clean-up included the power washing and disinfection of streets and sidewalks.

The City, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), conducted daily outreach to inform the local homeless and other residents of the cleaning, requesting that they remove their belongings from the public right-of-way. For those in need, the City provided two free temporary property storage options. “The City assembled a multi-agency task force to develop policies and procedures that struck a balance between respecting the property rights of the homeless and ensuring that people can live and work safely in the area,” stated Patrick Butler, Assistant Chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The clean up effort was welcomed by many downtown residents with some expressing that this was needed. The next step is for the city task force members to review the results of Operation Healthy Streets and develop a maintenance plan for the future.

Photo courtesy of the City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works.

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Katherine McNenny
    July 11th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you! I live in Skid Row and I am very happy you guys came here to clean!

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      July 11th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you, Katherine, for your words of encouragement. We are pleased that you are happy with the outcome of Operation Healthy Streets.

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