Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I went for a walk in the Eco-Village and all I got was this lousy garbage

Photos and blog post by Hans

ALL of this trash came from walking around one square block. Most of it was in the street or jammed into storm drain grates, the rest was hidden in the tall grass and weeds of unkempt boulevards. It took less than an hour to collect all this garbage, call 311 on 3 different properties, call Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling on an out of control collection point, and eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

This begs the question... whose responsibility is all of this trash? Obviously the good citizens of Nomi are capable of picking up after those who don't give a flying expletive, and if that's what it takes to live in a decent neighborhood I'm willing to do it, but 2 garbage bags full of litter seems a little excessive for such a small area and makes me wonder at what point the city should start taking responsibility for the actions of it's citizens.

The only good thing I have to report about this round of litter cleanup is...

... I didn't find any diapers.

Click on the pictures for a more detailed view of the filth.


Homewood Confidential said...

Our spring cleanup on the 10xx, 11xx and 12xx blocks of Russell, including both adjacent alleys and the enclosed portions of Oak Park Avenue, 12th Avenue and Plymouth Avenue netted several times what you have there -- including a motley collection of washcloths. They were scattered all over the place, in several different colors. Oh yeah, there was one used needle too. Sigh.

Aside from 4 or 5 obvious litter-generating homes, it's not the residents creating the trash. I see SUVs flying down the Russell Raceway (tm) throwing crap out the windows all the time. My neighbor said she regularly sees people come to a complete stop on 12th at Russell and toss their fast food refuse onto her boulevard. The only response we can do is that TWO of our block club leaders regularly go on litter patrol with hand grabbers.

And now, my next-door neighbor's latest downstairs renter seems to have a thing for tossing trash into my side yard. Candy, junk food, plastic bottles...

There must be a ton of Northsiders who were socialized to believe throwing stuff anywhere you please is okay, despite the implied disrespect inherent in this kind of behavior. Our neighborhoods will continue to look like crap as long as parents do not teach their children this fundamental rule. I *know* I learned this well before elementary school, though I'm sure it came up there too. Perhaps "don't be a litterbug" isn't taught in schools any longer because it isn't on the state standardized tests?

I believe in the Broken Windows theory of urban disorder, so the first time I managed to observe not only an instance of littering but also capture the license plate number of the offender, I submitted it to Tim Hammett, Crime Prevention Specialist at the 4th Precinct.

He explained that from a law enforcement perspective, there is very little they can do even when handed a reliable eyewitness report and license plate, because there is no guarantee the owner of the car was the driver. Sad but true.

Patrick said...

Thanks for doing something positive Hans. It's nice to come to this blog and read about people taking action to improve NoMi instead of just complaining and being negative.

Patrick said...

Thanks Hans! That's great of you to pick up so much trash of our streets. How many of those flaming hot cheeeto's bags did you get?

Low End Leroy said...

Thank you for picking up the garbage.

I'm not sure I believe the City should bear the responsibility for cleaning up the litter, over and above the regularly scheduled Spring and Fall street sweeping.

That said, it would be nice to see some enforcement of the litter ordinance.

I wonder how much revenue enforcement of the litter ordinance would generate?

I wonder if it would generate enough revenue to pay for the officer who's job it is to write the tickets?


Folwell Fox said...

It is the city's issue. They always seem to brag about clean, safe, livable and law abiding neighborhoods. I have half a mind to file a class action on them because I'm throwing the "bull-shit" flag on that one! I've been to third-world countries that are run better. Does anyone care to wager whether the majority of the problem stems from rental or owner occupied neighbors? A combination of higher taxes and a moratorium on rental licenses seems to be in order. Or, for you altruistic types, get more of those Sentence to Serve (STS) kids up here.

Kevin said...

I feel your pain and share your frustration. This is one of sad aftermaths of a neighborhood allowed to become the repository for all the folks nobody else wants in their neighborhood. We're changing that, but the going is slow.

You can request cement trash containers for the Blvds. from Mpls Solid Waste and Recycling if you sign a contract to keep them emptied. They even provide the bags. Believe it or not, people will use them and it does cut down tremendously on the amount of garbage thrown in the street - not all, but a whole lot of it. I really wish more people in Hawthorne would request these. They work.

Diapers are the worst by far. I can't fathom what kind of subhuman would even consider tossing something like that in the street. When I come across them, they stay there. I have my limits.

The Orkin Man said...

"Subhumans" is right.
North Minneapolis has more than its fair share of "subhumans."

Behavior alone is the critical determinant. You can recognize a subhuman by its behavior. Prime indicators of the presence of subhumans may include violence, grime, noise, pain, garbage, graffiti, rot and other forms of decay, tall grass and weeds, oil, tires, empty liquor bottles, tiny zip lock baggies, cigarette butts, and the wadded up, pinched off, corners of plastic sandwich bags.

Subhumans will eat almost anything but prefer greasy food that comes in easily disposable paper containers.

Subhumans favor chaotic environments where they can blend in and not be noticed. Subhumans thrive in chaos. The more orderly the environment, the less likely it is to suffer an infestation of subhumans.

Observe your environment carefully for the signs of subhuman activity.
Once infested, subhumans are very difficult to remove. Removal is best accomplished by constant vigilance, cleanliness and command over one's environment, thus rendering it inhospitable to the average subhuman.

Hans said...

I've seen those cement trash containers further down 4th street but I didn't know it was as simple as calling Mpls Solid Waste to request them. If I sign a contract to empty them does that mean I have to put the garbage in my garbage can (and therefore pay the city to remove the garbage it's citizens and guests illegally dumped)? I wouldn't mind spending a couple hours a week picking up trash if the city would give me a free place to put it all.

I have a hard time with the 'city isn't responsible for cleanup other than spring and fall street cleaning' argument.

If nobody were to pick up litter other than that which is on their property it seems like the streets would fill up pretty quick. As far as I know there isn't an ordinance requiring property owners to pick up trash in the street in front of their house. So... who picks it up? Does it just sit there and fester until the city gets around to its semi annual street cleaning?

If the city doesn't bear any responsibility then who does? Is litter in the streets just part of living in North Minneapolis... clean it up yourself or get used to looking at it?

I would like to see some sort of litter enforcement which cites litterbugs and then requires them to do community service to pay off their fine (STS style crews walking through the neighborhoods picking up the trash they created). Or maybe the city could pay minimum wage for residents to pick up trash... or give a discount on your trash bill each month if you participate.

All I ever hear on this issue is buck passing and "It's too difficult to enforce the litter ordinance."

This is a huge livability issue in NoMi and there has to be an answer. (I'm calling solid waste right now about those cement containers...)

Low End Leroy said...

If anyone has better information, regarding the following comment, please share it.

I believe that the property lines for the average city lot extend from the center line of the street to the center line of the alley, as the case may be. As property owners within the City, we have granted an easement for the public's right of way over the portion of the street/alley running over our property. The same applies for the sidewalks, and (I think) boulevards, as well.

In light of that, if everyone picked up the garbage on their property, the city would be pretty clean.
A better alternative, however, would be for no one to litter, ever, in which case the city would be much less dirty.

Until that happens, however, we (you and me, Buddy) are stuck on diaper detail. The city doesn't have enough money to keep our streets as clean as we would like them.

I laud your efforts and will come tour your block just to savor its freedom from litter. Thank you for picking up all that piggy garbage.

I have some cool rubber gloves and a bottle of bleach you can use next time.

btw- the concrete trash containers do cut down on the curbside litter. Last spring, I put three of them on our block. They require a fair amount of work every three weeks, or so, but they're totally worth it.


Anonymous said...

It is correct that the city is not responsible for picking up litter. Can you imagine how much higher our taxes would be if they city had official litter picker uppers? I like the idea of a moretorium on rental licenses. Perhaps we could also start non-renewal of some as well to reduce the volume of non owner occupants in NOMI.

Hans said...

Thanks for all the well thought out comments and ideas.

I can definitely imagine how much higher our taxes would be if the city had official litter picker uppers.

I can also imagine that certain parts of the city wouldn't need litter pickup services... and I imagine that NoMi would be a more desirable place to live if we had litter picker uppers.

Anonymous said...

So those in the parts of the city that pick up their own trash should subsidize NOMI through higher taxes because they can't keep their neighborhood clean?

Homewood Confidential said...

@Low End Leroy:

Property lines start at the house side of the sidewalk and extend no further than the alley line. Only if an alley is vacated (officially eliminated from plats) could that property ever become part of one's lot. Boulevard is owned by the city but must be maintained by the homeowner.

If you ever go looking for the property stakes (surveyor's monuments), you'll usually find them about six inches inside the alley/sidewalk line. They may be buried due to grade changes or soil buildup over many decades.

Hans said...

anon 9:38

Lots of people all over Nomi "pick up their own trash"... wait that's wrong. Most people in Nomi don't have to "pick up their own trash" because most people don't throw it on the ground in the first place.

The trash in front of my house isn't MY trash... somebody else left it there.

We CAN keep our neighborhood clean, but it's a lot more work than in other parts of Minneapolis... and I am the one subsidizing clean streets for my neighbors through my labor.

I certainly wouldn't mind if people in other parts of Minneapolis would subsidize clean streets for me... there are many examples (none of which I care to get into right now) of other parts of the city getting more or better services than we receive in North... and I'm subsidizing those services through my taxes.

With that said, I think the end result of city funded litter pickup would probably just be more litter.

I wish I could call 311 on a house or block with a ton of litter and have the STS crews come out and clean it up, then assess the owner of the house... just like we can do for tall grass or 'open to tresspass' properties.

Folwell Fox said...

Regarding anon 9:38's comment. My wife stated (who was a former owner occupied resident in Uptown). Look at this as a capital improvement project. If you increase livability in Nomi by decreasing said behavior and crime this will naturally increase well being in the neighborhoods and attract new people; thus, increase property values and gain revenue for the city. Thereby, keep property taxes low as a whole throughout the city!

I believe this will also help reduce emergency services. Those responses aren't cheap and you already help pay for those!

brokedown palace said...

Whine Whine Whine about nomi receiving less service than the rest of the city. I've lived here for years and I do not see evidence of this. You are the second person from the Ecovillage in the last ten days to whine whine whine about this inferior service you supposedly receive.

Maybe it has something to with the quality, focus and drive of those who represent the area.

I say quit whining and get pi**ed off at your sh*thead neighbors and their landlords, especially the landlords.

My observation is that the part of nomi in which I live recieves the same level, if not a higher level, of service when compared with the rest of the city. It is just that nomi requires more service because of all the sh*theads. I know for a fact that this is the case with the level of service coming out of the 4th precinct, and I suspect it is the same across other aspects of the citys services.

Quit whining and make life harder for those who make life harder for you.

Kevin said...


You can call 311 about trash on a property or even trash on the Blvd in front of a property. I've done it many times and the city does respond and does bill the owner for the pick-up. It can take time if Inspections gets involved, but eventually it does get done.

One bit of info:

A trashy garbage cart collection point is handled a bit differently. Don't call 311. Call the Solid Waste Department directly at 673-2917. These people are fantastic and respond very quickly. Also call about trash carts left out on the Blvd. They will come out, move them back to where they're suppose to be and bill the owner for doing it.

I think we need a trash club in Hawthorne. Unfortunately most people I meet around here seem pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. That bugs me.

Low End Leroy said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding property lines.

As a follow up to what Kevin mentioned. When I've called Solid Waste for massive piles of garbage at a neighboring property-- Solid Waste was on it. In less than 24 hours the massive piles were gone and the homeowner received the bill.

Hans said...

I will continue to "whine whine whine" as long as it creates discussion. If it weren't for my whining I never would have heard any of these most excellent suggestions.

In the original post I mentioned a collection point that I called Mpls Solid Waste about. As of yesterday it was cleaned up... so I have to agree those guys are fast.

In regard to garbage cans that are left on the boulevard... it seems like everybody here that doesn't have alley garbage pickup leaves their cans at the street. I just figured that was the way things worked if you didn't have an alley... but now it sounds like they aren't supposed to left out there?

I like the idea of a trash club. It didn't take me very long to clean up the block... and until it piles up again I get to enjoy clean streets near my house.

Your Eyedea said...

Just saw a women throw a diaper from her suv in the eco village...

I think their on to us..

Anonymous said...

One day outside my house, I saw a nicely dressed middle-aged woman standing by her car chatting with a friend, while a small child (her granddaughter, I assumed) was standing quietly next to them drinking a can of soda. When the little girl was finished with the soda, she reached up to try to hand the empty can to her grandmother, in the universal "I'm finished now, Grammma" gesture.

Without interrupting her conversation, the grandmother pointed to the ground, indicating that the little girl should throw the can in the street (in front of my house), which she very obediently did.