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Littering hurts the community


Littering hurts the community

POSTED June 13, 2012 8:23 a.m.
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The first point I want to make about littering is that where a community, neighborhood, business establishment or any public place like a park has litter strewn about, it is likely to have crime problems. Litter is blight, and blighted areas are less safe than other places. And where there is litter, there are more problems with tagging, prostitution, loitering and illegal drug use. A blighted area attracts criminals because it sends the message of "we don't care." And when people do not care, they are less apt to call the police when they observe crime, or may be afraid to make reports because they may think that the police do not care either. It is a troubling situation.

Litter is like a magnet; once some litter gathers in an area, more is likely to build up. Most people are not quick to be the first ones to throw down litter where none exists, but it would seem to make no difference to add some more to a place that is already blighted. Loose papers, soiled diapers, old boxes and the like are the starting point for the more bold illegal dumpers to drop off old couches, appliances, used engine oil and mattresses. It is for the aforementioned reasons that it is so very important to stop the littering cycle. The community needs to be aware of how a littered area will end up with crime and devalued home prices if its members either do the littering themselves or neglect to clean up their neighborhoods.

Shopping centers tend to draw more customers and have fewer problems with crimes, loitering, tagging and beggars when the business grounds are kept clean. Shoppers feel safer and more secure when they do business at locations that are free of these problems. Abandoned shopping carts are also a continuing problem. It is a crime to take a shopping cart away from a business establishment without permission and businesses are responsible for collecting carts that have been abandoned.

There are many sources of litter and blight. Some of them include uncovered loads in vehicles that are transporting refuse to a disposal site. Waste wheelers and dumpsters that are overfilled with garbage that is not bagged is a real problem, especially when the wind blows. It is important to properly bag garbage to avoid inadvertent spills or problems when the wind blows. It is also illegal to dump garbage and other items in or around dumpsters that are not your own or without authorization.

Tagging (some people call it "graffiti," but tagging is actually something different), is similar to the littering/garbage problem; once a bit of tagging shows up in an area, much more will rapidly follow. If the taggings are on private property, it is important to remove it immediately both for practical and legal reasons. On public property, the city usually can have it removed without delay - as long as we know about it. Tagging can be reported by calling the graffiti hotline at 538-5734. Prompt removal of tagging and graffiti is a priority of the city because of the blight factor, but also since tagging usually has criminal underpinnings; we do not want to allow it to exist for any longer than absolutely necessary. The city of Ceres spends $70,000 to $100,000 each year removing taggings and graffiti from public restrooms and other buildings, walls, parks, streets, sidewalks, vehicles, park benches, alleys, fences, and from just about any other location that presents itself as a target for criminals.

The appearance of our community is the responsibility of everyone who lives here. If you see litter, stop and pick it up. In instances of abandoned shopping carts, large items dumped on public streets or sidewalks, taggings, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, please let us know without delay so the problem can be eliminated. You can call the city of Ceres Code Enforcement Unit at 538-5799 for assistance with these matters.
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