In a continued crack down on illegal dumping across Philadelphia, city officials on Tuesday announced they have mounted 24-hour surveillance cameras in certain areas to help with enforcement efforts.
Mayor Jim Kenney and other city officials said 10 cameras had been in place for about a month, with plans to place 100 more throughout the city over the next 10 months to monitor illegal dumping activity.
“Installing cameras is a key piece of how we are tracking down the people that dump in our neighborhoods on a regular basis. By monitoring the footage captured on these cameras, we will be able to better prosecute and impose fines on the people who repeatedly dump in our neighborhoods,” Kenney said.
The cameras, which cost about $5,000 apiece, will record continuously.
“We are watching you and we are going to lock you up,” said Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez. “Legislating this is one angle of it. Allowing people to think they can come into working neighborhoods like this and dumping is something that we take personally.
“So we are watching you, and we are going to take your cars,” she added.
The trash problem in the city has been getting progressively worse in recent years. According to a PlanPhilly report earlier this year, residents place an average of 15,000 illegal dumping and 6,500 vacant lot cleanup service requests every year. They accounted for about 21 percent of field service requests in 2016.
The city has been ramping up its fight against this form of urban blight.
A little more than two months ago, officials increased the fine for short dumping from $300 to $1,000 or more, depending on how many times the person has committed the offense.
As Kenney and others spoke at the corner of West Venango and North Hutchinson streets in North Philadelphia, considered one of the most notorious spots in the city for illegal trash dumping, about 30 large green plastic trash bags and a pile of discarded tires sat behind them.
City Council President Darrell Clarke said that he and Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams recently rode through the area and took note of the rubbish throughout the councilman’s 5th District.
Shortly thereafter, Williams dispatched crews to clean up the piles, but two days later the trash was back.
“Council president Clarke said, ‘We need to do more than just cleaning this mess up. I know that you guys are working hard to get it resolved, but unfortunately it continues to happen and unfortunately the residents are not getting any reprieve from this type of behavior,’ “ Williams said.
“So we need to catch these people and hold them accountable,” Williams added.