Los Angeles City Council aides usually work behind the scenes, rarely recognized as they field phone calls from unhappy constituents, plan news conferences for their bosses and draft city policies.
But Luis Hurtado, 30, an aide to City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, is a familiar presence in the 6th District in the northeast San Fernando Valley. His sole job is to pick up trash in Martinez's district, which takes in the neighborhoods of Arleta, Van Nuys and Sun Valley.
Five days a week, Hurtado drives a small pickup truck along the boulevards and streets, sweeping up cigarette butts and empty cans, carting off abandoned couches and bagging piles of discarded clothes.
Residents in the district recognize Hurtado, he said, and wave to him when they drive by. Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation drivers pull over and let him empty his trash bags into their trucks.
Inspired by Hurtado's work, Councilman Herb Wesson, the temporary caretaker of the 7th District, in the San Fernando Valley, dedicated two staffers to trash cleanup in that area. Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose district includes Hollywood, also has a staffer who picks up trash and organizes community walks.