Not everything about the Los Angeles Police Department’s Operation Sparkle was still glittering Sunday, a day after the San Fernando Valley cleanup campaign.
The highly praised community and police effort to rid neighborhoods of graffiti and trash, and also to restore some luster to the department’s image, left behind piles of uncollected debris on Valley streets.
Instead of making friends, some residents who took part in the Saturday morning cleanup ended up being angry with police.
“This is outrageous because we worked like dogs on the cleanup and then got left out of the pickup,” Raymond Jackson said as he surveyed a 50-foot-long pile of discarded furniture, shrubbery and other trash that lined the curb near his Bromont Avenue home in Pacoima.
Jackson, president of the Northeast Valley Home Improvement Assn., said residents were not told why the pickup was not made Saturday as scheduled and believed that their street had been overlooked.
He said the mix-up tarnished some of the good will that the Police Department hoped to gain by sponsoring the cleanup operation.
“The people followed through, but somebody failed,” Jackson said. “We want to get involved with the Police Department, but this is a disappointment. Now we have a pile of trash out here that makes our neighborhood look ridiculous. If they were not going to pick it up, they should have told us.”
Police on Sunday explained that debris piles in some areas were uncollected because the huge response by community members to Operation Sparkle created too much trash to be picked up Saturday by volunteers. Sgt. Dennis Zine said all 15 of the large dumpsters used for the project in the Valley were quickly filled. He said the remaining trash would be picked up by noon today.
“The people did too good of a job, and we exceeded our capacity,” Zine said. “We couldn’t make any more pickups. It was a massive problem. I would estimate there are several trash piles” that still must be picked up.
The police explanation did little to soothe the disappointment of residents living in the neatly kept Bromont Avenue neighborhood. Several residents who spent Saturday morning cleaning up the neighborhood spent much of Sunday shooing children away from the trash pile, where there were heaps of tree limbs, appliances, old couches and broken glass.
Terry Smith, whose home is alongside the trash pile, said he had to spend part of his day off Sunday repeatedly ordering neighborhood children away.
“This is what concerns me,” Smith said, pointing to jagged glass protruding from a broken shower door. “Somebody could get hurt. When they asked if it was OK to put the pile here, I said, ‘OK.’ I thought they were talking about four hours.”
Ada Frazier, who lives across the intersection from the debris, said it was drawing scavengers to the neighborhood. “It’s a disgrace,” she said.
In another Operation Sparkle-related incident, police arrested four teen-agers Saturday night and early Sunday for scrawling graffiti on North Hollywood walls that had been painted over only hours earlier.
A 17-year-old, whose name was not released because of his age, was arrested in the 7300 block of Radford Avenue about 10:30 p.m. on suspicion of defacing a freshly painted wall, police said. He was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall.
Jesus Lineres, 19, and Edgar Vaga, 18, were arrested near Vanowen Street and Klump Avenue about 1:15 a.m. on suspicion of similar crimes, police said. Juan Castillo, 18, was arrested 15 minutes later a few blocks away at Vanowen and Vineland Avenue, police said.
Lineres and Castillo were released on bail. Vaga was being held Sunday in lieu of $250 bail.
Staff writer Aaron Curtiss contributed to this report.