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Litter is a problem that can be remedied by all

POSTED February 20, 2013 7:59 a.m.
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Litter and blight in our community, as is the case in most all communities in our region, continues to be a burgeoning problem. The litter problem results from many causes, none-the-least are the litter bugs who (with seeming contempt) visit fast-food places and throw their food packaging on the ground in parking lots or onto the streets. Overfilled dumpsters and garbage cans are certainly problematic, especially when a breeze causes the papers and other lightweight items to blow away into the streets, neighbors' yards, and our parks. Vehicles transporting discards to the refuse center are also a big problem when loads are not properly covered, often resulting in dangerous road hazards in addition to litter along our roadways. Urban outdoorsmen rummage through dumpsters and garbage cans, removing items they find desirable and simply leaving trash on the ground. With all of the aforementioned sources, you can see why there is so much litter in so many places, not to mention the accumulation of abandoned shopping carts as well.

Obviously, litter and blight degrade the aesthetics of our community. Trash, shopping carts, dumped furniture and appliances, tires, abandoned vehicles, old toilets, sinks, mattresses and the like create terrible eyesores. If not removed immediately, they tend to languish for weeks at a time before someone finally cleans the messes up. Litter and blight not only look bad, but it drives down property values and turns away prospective businesses that would otherwise have an interest in coming to Ceres.

As a result of budgetary restrictions, city staff resources have been cut back, and it may take some time before we can hire more employees to help with clean-up efforts. Our city employees deal with these problems as soon as other priorities allow, but there simply are not enough of them to keep our public streets, sidewalks and parks as litter-free as most of us would like.

Aside from the negative impacts of litter and blight, it is well known that criminals tend to favor places that appear unkempt, dirty and littered with trash. The reason for this is that such things suggest that the residents "don't care" and are less likely to pay attention to their surroundings or call the police when there are suspicious activities taking place. Those who do not care about the appearance of their neighborhoods are unlikely to bother taking any action to help thwart criminal activity.

The small number of city employees available to look for and remove litter and blight, in addition to their other duties such as maintaining the city's infrastructure, cannot handle the problem by themselves. But collectively, with the many people who live and work here, there is much that can be done. When every one of us properly bags our trash or covers the loads we are hauling to the dump, when we stop to pick up litter when we see it, and when the litterbugs stop using our streets, sidewalk and parks as garbage cans, we will see a dramatic improvement in the appearance and the quality of life in our community.

It goes without saying that the police and code enforcement personnel will issue citations to persons littering or illegally dumping items, but the real solution will come from you, the citizens. I want to thank the community members who are often seen walking through their neighborhoods and parks armed with a bucket and a tool for picking up trash to do their part to keep our community clean and safe. They are the very role models that we need and should appreciate having here in Ceres. We need hundreds, if not thousands, more like them to fight neighborhood blight, litter, and prevent crime. Will you join us and be part of the solution?
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