Standing on a podium in front of a pile of old rugs and stuffed trash bags scattered around the edge of a wooded area in Larimer, Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday announced a new plan to tackle illegal dumping in Pittsburgh.
The site is one of more than 800 sites identified by the city where contractors and other violators dumped debris without permission. The new plan is called Goals on Litter and Dumping, or GOLD, and it’s meant to create consequences for dumpers.
The city will use hidden surveillance cameras on a rotating set of these sites – eight cameras now and half a dozen more to come – and track dumpers through their license plates. Under the upcoming proposed changes to the city code, dumpers will be required to return the community.
âOver eight hundred sites like this throughout the city of Pittsburgh. Over 800 places entrepreneurs and others go and use our city as a dumping ground, âPeduto said at the press conference. âJust a message to these people: we’ll find you. We will have cameras there. We will move the cameras. We will get your plate numbers. And we’ll get you back to that neighborhood and clean up the neighborhood.
The plan was developed with input from community groups and technical assistance from the city’s Clean Pittsburgh Commission and nonprofits including Allegheny CleanWays and Pennsylvania Resources Council. It was based in part on a study of waste and spill issues in nine Pennsylvania cities, published in January 2020 by consultant Burns & McDonnell. The study found that Pennsylvania spends $ 68 million a year to combat waste and illegal dumping, said Christopher Mitchell, the city’s anti-waste coordinator.
The GOLD plan is still in its infancy. According to the study, Pittsburgh – based on its population – should have eight full-time anti-waste and anti-dumping law enforcement employees; he only has one, Mitchell said. The Peduto administration plans to ask the city council to approve two new such hires, he said.
Peduto said he also plans to seek necessary city code updates to better define waste and dumping violations and to make community restitution part of the punishment for violators.
In Larimer, community representatives said moves were welcome.
“What is happening is people are finding desolate areas in communities like Larimer, and there isn’t a lot of housing here, so there is an opportunity for people to jump in and go unnoticed. under the cloak of darkness, as well as in broad daylight, âsaid Malik Morris, community engagement manager for the Larimer Consensus Group. He spoke at the press conference site at the northern end of Larimer, near a densely forested hill overlooking Washington Boulevard. “You clean up, they throw in again.”
Donna Jackson, who chairs the group’s board of directors, said she had personally phoned the head of a contracting company on one of the many new residential construction projects in the neighborhood to tell him that one of her teams had thrown away the remains of a concrete sidewalk at this same site. . She said the contractor cleaned up the mess the next day, but the problem persists.
âIt’s a good thing they’re working on this, to change that, because we’re trying to grow and bring this community back,â she said. âAs we revitalize this community, it is important that this stuff stops. “