Two candidates, two plans for a cleaner Philly
It’s not by accident that Philadelphia acquired the pejorative name “Philthydelphia.” Residents and organizations have been pressuring the city to tackle the trash epidemic in the city for years. And lately, issue has been gaining priority on the mayoral agenda.
Newsworks NinetyNine reported that both candidates support implementing regular citywide street-cleaning. A bimonthly program would cost an estimated $18 million in startup money and $3.5 million in annual operating costs, according to the Streets Department.
Of course, regular citywide street-sweeping would require residents to move their cars every two weeks — a contentious issue for some Philadelphians.
Democratic nominee Jim Kenney has suggested an opt-in approach, meaning that neighborhoods who want their clean streets can choose the service. Those who’d rather not have to move their cars a few blocks every week can have it their way as well.
On Tuesday, Murray Bailey unveiled a four-pillar plan to address the mess:
1. Make it easy!
Deploy trash cans on all bus routes and commercial areas throughout the city.
2. Clean the Streets.
Set up a bi-weekly street-cleaning program for the entire city. The Water Department currently spends money and resources to catch trash before it enters our storm water system. If we solve the root cause of the problem — trash in the streets — we spend less in the long run and get the benefit of a cleaner city.
3. Eliminate the Sources.
Restaurants and businesses will be prohibited from dropping paper menus and advertising anywhere outside.
4. Community accountability.
We will enforce littering laws. Additionally, residents will be encouraged to play a role in helping to keep the city clean by contacting 311 or making an online complaint to hold trash men accountable for reoccurring collection problems and to let the streets department know when corner trash cans are full and need to be emptied.
Meanwhile, Kenney has been pushing a multifaceted environmental policy since earlier this year. He recently proposed another “very preliminary idea” to tackle the trash plague, too.
What if we expanded the role of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) so that they could write tickets for littering? Kenney has suggested the agency could help L&I by ticketing for other offenses like illegal dumping and building permit issues, the Inquirer reported.
The typical fine for littering is $150. In 2014, the city brought in some $5 million from tickets. The idea of not only generating exponentially more revenue from littering fines, but also of enforcing a culture of cleanliness, has been well received so far.
Kenney has also suggested spicing up anti-litter campaigns throughout the city. Ryan Briggs has the details for the Next Mayor project:
In addition to outlining his street cleaning plan, Kenney also said he would like to refashion the city’s unpopular “UnLitter Us” ad campaign. That program combines slam poetry with anti-littering public service announcements.
He said he’d like to see those ads, paid for with a state recycling education grant, reworked with “a little South Philly edge.”
“We need a more robust kind of direct, in-your-face advertising effort. Some of the stuff that was done for public service spots was a little on the softer side,” he said, referring to UnLitter Us. “I’m not a TV commercials producer or director, but I have a couple ideas of how to get people's attention.”
Do you have ideas for how to tackle trash in the city? Email your mayoral candidates and let them know what you think.