On Nov. 12, the Blythe City Council approved three pertinent measures aiming to substantively mitigate and deter the public quality of life issues of illegal dumping and trash across community neighborhoods.
The outlined actions come following resident Sandra Hudson’s criticisms of officials at the preceding Oct. 8 city council meeting, during which she described the blighted state and condition of Blythe as being “the dirtiest, nastiest, trash-filled” ever seen.
City Wide Alley Clean-Up Program with CR&R
“In an effort to help the city clean up the illegal dumping taking place in our alleys, CR&R (the city’s waste hauler), has proposed an alley clean-up plan. The plan includes CR&R removing trash and debris from every alley in the city once per week,” noted Blythe Interim City Manager Mallory Crecelius. “To accomplish this, the city will be divided into quads. CR&R will visit each quad once per week and remove any discarded material or debris found in the alleys at that time. This is a new service that will be offered as part of the agreement between the city and CR&R. All other clean up services would remain the same with no changes.”
A 2.98 percent rate increase for residential and commercial customers in Blythe – equating to 80 cents per month – was stipulated in the agreement’s amendment.
“We want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to bring this plan forward. We think it’s a plan that’s much-needed; we appreciate the hard work that Mallory and her staff have put into it. We appreciate the meetings that we’ve had with Councilmember (Joe) Halby and Councilmember (Johnny) Rodriguez. We understand that this is a very difficult issue to deal with, but we want to be a part of your solution. And we think with this plan in place, it will definitely make a difference here in Blythe,” said CR&R Senior Regional Vice President Alex Braicovich. “We look forward to working on that and, in fact, we’ve already started doing it now. Based on what (I’ve been told), it’s close to five tons (that) we’ve collected already. And that’s before we’ve started the program, officially. So we look forward to continuing in that direction. And we think by, for sure by the end of this year, (you’ll) be able to tell a difference (in your alleys compared) to what they look like today.”
Increased Penalties for Illegal Dumping Violations
In an effort to further put off the criminal aspect of illegal dumping, the council amended Ordinance No. 737-97’s previous minimum penalty of $25 (and up to a maximum of $250) to, now, fines starting at $1,000.
“To deter the illegal placement of garbage within the community, staff has recently prepared a number of proposals, one of which is increasing the penalties for illegal dumping,” stated Crecelius. “The attached ordinance includes language that would amend the Blythe Municipal Code (BMC) to increase the penalty for illegal dumping from an infraction to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the Riverside County Jail for a period of not more than six months, or by both fine and imprisonment.”
The change also included language authorizing the city to issue according administrative citations to persons illegally dumping garbage and waste refuse in the Blythe community:
A. An administrative fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the first violation;
B. Ad administrative fine of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for the second violation; and
C. An administrative fine of two thousand dollars ($2,000) for the third and subsequent violation.
“Those could be issued in addition to the criminal penalties,” noted Crecelius.
Blythe Rewards Program for Reporting Illegal Dumping
“On top of the deterrent measures proposed this evening to reduce illegal dumping in the city, staff would like to establish a reward system to promote the reporting of persons who are witnessed illegally dumping,” said Crecelius. “The cash reward would be payable to anyone reporting someone who may be illegally dumping. The city had a similar program for graffiti reporting a number of years ago.”
Should the illegal dumper(s) be caught and cited by the Blythe Police Department (BPD) or Code Enforcement, a $100 cash reward would be issued to the respective reporting citizen.
The reward program’s monies will stem from the city’s Sanitation Fund.
“What if they get a picture of video of (a person[s] illegally dumping) on their phone?” asked Councilmember Eric Egan. “Everybody’s got a video phone nowadays.”
As noted by Crecelius, so long as there’s a citation issued to a violator, a citizen would be accordingly issued the monetary reward and be kept anonymous.