City's trash police to mount three-prong attack on littering

August 20, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

They're determined to buff up Baltimore.

Warned by the mayor to clean up their act, Baltimore's 36 sanitation supervisors, eight superintendents and their division chiefs are embarking on a citywide campaign to restore a little shine to streets and alleys.

The city's Bureau of Solid Waste, put on 60-day notice by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke this week, plans to crack down on residents who dump everything from broken bags of garbage to old mattresses and rusting appliances behind their homes.

In the next two months, the supervisors and district superintendents also will be expected to contact 40 community associations each week to find out about any continuing trash problems as part of a three-prong attack outlined yesterday by Kenneth Strong, the bureau's acting chief.

"When I drive around the city, I have the same concerns that the mayor has," Mr. Strong said. "I'm in agreement with him that improvements can be made in both how we deliver sanitation services and in the quantity of the services."

After spending the past few months touring neighborhoods littered with trash, Mayor Schmoke unhappily concluded that the city is filthy. He declared Thursday that he's had enough and gave the Bureau of Solid Waste exactly two months to show some progress.

The mayor said he's particularly disturbed by how few citations have been issued to residents, landlords and private haulers who fail to follow the city's trash rules.

Mr. Strong conceded that the bureau has been lax on enforcement in the past. Since mid-June, he said, supervisors stepped up their pace and sent out some 2,000 warning notices. If offenders fail to comply, they will be hit with $25 fines.

"I expect to keep up that pace," Mr. Strong said, adding at that rate, the bureau will issue 20,000 warnings and citations each year.

"I believe this is a powerful tool for us that has been underutilized. Most people are very responsive to these notices. I think people need a reminder, an official nudge," he said.

The first part of Mr. Strong's three-prong plan is the new emphasis on enforcement. The second is keeping in close contact with community associations. The third is a bureau reorganization that includes creating a maintenance division that will be responsible for bulk trash collection, street and alley cleanups and graffiti removal.

Under the reorganization, trash crews will go from neighborhood to neighborhood to pick up bulk items, sweep out alleys and organize community cleanups.

Mr. Strong also plans to support legislation to be considered by the City Council this fall that would require landlords who evict tenants to haul their belongings to a dump or storage site. Evicted tenants often leave piles of junk on the sidewalk.

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