The Los Angeles City Council today directed the Bureau of Sanitation and City Attorney's Office to find ways to discourage people from littering personal protective equipment, including increasing fines and enforcement measures.
Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and Mitch O'Farrell filed a motion in April that stated residents have contacted them with concerns about masks and gloves that may be contaminated with COVID-19 discarded in grocery store parking lots, park walking paths and sidewalks.
"This littering is not only disrespectful of others, it is dangerous to others, especially the workers who end up cleaning up the contaminated items," Blumenfield said. "So during this pandemic, I think it makes good sense that we enhance the penalties and we make a strong statement that it is unacceptable to throw your gloves and masks willy-nilly on the ground."
According to a report from the Bureau of Sanitation, California state law sets a maximum $1,000 fine for the first littering conviction, $1,500 for the second and $3,000 for the third and subsequent violations. Currently, the city's maximum penalty is $1,000 and/or six months in jail.
The bureau recommended the City Council provide it with additional resources to provide metrics on the collection of discarded PPE and to increase enforcement staff for all applicable environmental laws.
"Anytime you throw any piece of trash on the ground, much less something that's possibly contaminated, just realize the level of disrespect that is for others in the general public," O'Farrell said. "I would hope that this is an opportunity for us as Angelenos to show and demonstrate the importance of keeping our neighborhoods cleaner in general."
The council's Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee waived hearing the motion when it was introduced.