Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney soon will announce a street sweeping pilot program following years of criticism over litter-strewn streets, said Nic Esposito, director of the mayor’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet.
“Right now we are looking at a possible pilot program, hopefully in the spring,” Esposito told WHYY Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane during Wednesday’s show.
“We are putting it together with the Cabinet, Managing Director’s Office, the Streets Department and the administration. We’ll see what that looks like. There will be more details to come,” he added.
Esposito said the city has not yet selected a target area for the pilot. The official announcement of the program will come from Kenney, he said.
The on-air announcement comes a week after Kenney told Moss-Coane that the city was exploring the restoration of “some form of street cleaning” after nearly two decades without a regular, citywide street cleaning program.
Philadelphia is the only big city without regular street cleaning.
In his earlier Radio Times interview, Kenney outlined the obstacles that had led the city to eliminate the last remnants of regular street cleaning. The mayor had said his political confidant and former South Philadelphia Councilman Frank DiCicco had nearly lost reelection due to residents furious over being ticketed for failing to move their cars.
“[DiCicco] was concerned with his re-election because people were so angry about having to move their cars when the streets were being swept,” Kenney said. “Think about how insane that was. So everyone was gun-shy after that.”
Kenney promised to restore citywide cleaning during his 2015 mayoral campaign and formed the Litter Cabinet to make good on that pledge.
Esposito has maintained that street sweeping is “not a silver bullet” for the citywide litter problem, noting that "We could sweep and then two days later it will go back to looking like it did.”
He has said the panel favors a holistic approach that includes data analysis, enhanced enforcement around short dumping and an initiative to give out trash can lids in certain neighborhoods. — (WHYY)