Philadelphia recently got another tool in its ongoing effort to dump its “Filth-adelphia” moniker: heftier fines.
City Council has designated more than 80 blocks, streets and areas as Litter Enforcement Corridors, where fines for littering or illegal dumping, known as short-dumping, will be doubled or tripled.
Nic Esposito, director of the city’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, expected the increased fines to make an impact.
“The big thing is when we start catching people,” he said. “You might have dumped in Philadelphia for years and you think you can get away with it, but you’re not going to get away with it anymore, and when we catch you, you’re going to get hit pretty hard.”
In November, City Council passed the bill that established the new designation and listed 84 areas that are among the highest littered and most well-established illegal dump sites in Philadelphia. The selection of the corridors was a collaborative effort between Esposito’s office, City Council and the police department.
Councilman Bobby Henon, who introduced the legislation, said the legislation complemented the Kenney administration’s zero waste and litter initiatives, which included the installation of more surveillance cameras in trash-dumping hot spots announced last week.
“These fines and cameras, I think, are critical to changing behavior,” Henon said.
Among the locations designated as litter corridors are Ridge Avenue from Lehigh Avenue to Fairmount Avenue; Ogontz Avenue from Stenton Avenue to Cheltenham Avenue; Grays Ferry Avenue from 34th Street to Washington Avenue; Woodland Avenue from 58th Street to Cobbs Creek Parkway; and the 3500, 3600 and 3700 blocks of North Germantown Avenue.
The neighborhoods that ranked among the worst of the worst for litter and illegal dumping were Strawberry Mansion, Allegheny West, Nicetown, Logan and Kensington.
Residents living in these litter corridors can expect to see news signs about the designation and warnings about fines in the new year, as well as an uptick in the presence of police and Street Department personnel.
Fines for littering already were $300 in the city, but those fines now can be doubled in the new enforcement corridors.
Fines for short-dumping — ranging from the illegal disposing of household garbage to contractors dumping heavy-duty items — can now be tripled in those corridors. The city’s current fines for illegal dumping are $1,000 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second violation and $2,000 for each subsequent offense.
In the City Council’s fall session, the 17-member body was considering upping fines for illegal dumping to $2,000 for a first offense with a maximum penalty of $25,000. But the legislation, introduced by City Council President Darrell Clarke, stalled. City Council is not scheduled to meet until Jan. 24.
Removing the garbage and trash is more than changing perceptions and the image of Philadelphia, it also costs a lot of taxpayer dollars.
For cleaning up heavy illegal dump sites alone in 2016, Esposito estimated the city spent upwards of $8 million.
In addition, a 13-member crew in the city’s Streets Department is tasked full time with clearing illegal dump sites, which costs taxpayers approximately $600,000 a year.