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Coffee and cigarettes lead litter in Glendale

Cigarette butts found in Glendale
Although there is a sign that says “No Smoking” on the premises, these cigarette butts were found within a 50-foot radius on the lawn next to the parking lot of the Glendale Central Library on Friday, July 5, 2013. Cigarette butts continue to be major source of trash on streets and other public areas in Glendale, which saw its annual litter index rise again slightly in 2013.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Cigarette butts continue to be major source of trash on streets and other public areas in Glendale, which saw its annual litter index rise again slightly this year.

On a scale of one to four — with 1 indicating “no litter” and 4 representing “extremely littered,” Glendale scored a 1.52 this year after volunteers and city staff trekked through 24 routes in the city last month.

GRAPH: Glendale’s litter scores 

Glendale scored 1.51 last year and 1.47 in 2011, however current rank is still below the 1.87 logged in 2005.

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Sandra Rodriguez, program coordinator in the Community Development Department, said the city has hovered around a score of 1.5 for years and that residents should read into small fluctuations.

“The scores have remained fairly consistent over the years, indicating that litter in Glendale is not a problem,” Rodriguez said in an email. “Nevertheless, there’s always room for improvement.”

Pauline Ferguson, a member of the Committee for a Clean & Beautiful Glendale, has participated in the survey for more than five years. She said she didn’t see much of a change this year — cigarette butts continue to be the most prevalent form of trash they spot despite strict bans on smoking in many public places.

“We see basically the same litter all the time,” Ferguson said, adding that coffee cups are another constant litter source.

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City officials have done a lot of outreach in an attempt to reduce the number of cigarette butts that end up on streets, such as providing metal disposal boxes on poles, but Ferguson said those efforts don’t appear to be having much of an impact.

Still, she said: “We live in a very clean city.”

Routes along the freeways tend to have the most litter. The Foothill (210) Freeway was the dirtiest route this year with a score of 2.83. The Golden State (5) Freeway, meanwhile, maintained a score of 2.33, which is still down from 3.17 in 2011.

A route near San Fernando Road and Western Avenue saw its litter score jump 53% to 1.94, the largest increase among the 24 routes this year. An area near Verdugo Road and Colorado Street saw a 29% decline to 1.25, the biggest drop.

In addition to the annual survey, the city has several litter-fighting programs, such as the Great American Clean Up Day, which recruits volunteers to pick up trash and paint over graffiti. Rodriguez said she uses the litter scores to identify areas that need more Adopt-a-Block volunteers.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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