Cleaning Streets and Encampments Keeps Trash from Flowing into the Ocean

Trash coming out of  a storm drain that flows into Santa Monica Bay.
Photo: Rick Swinger

This season’s rainfall in Los Angeles since October 1 is almost nine inches behind the normal average (14.93 inches), which started last July, according to the L.A. Almanac.

Good for those who have drought-tolerant landscaping, but maybe even better for the ocean.

One reader wrote that since homeless encampments are no longer being cleared out, “The City of Los Angeles is allowing more trash and pollution into Santa Monica Bay through storm drains that flow directly into our ocean.”

“With Mike Bonin’s policy of not having comprehensive cleanup at the encampments along the coast and now our street cleaning is reduced by 50 percent, this should be alarming to all who care about our Santa Monica Bay.”

Starting this month, street cleaning in communities such as Venice and Playa Vista is every other week. There is no street sweeping in Pacific Palisades.

Years ago, discarded trash and other litter left on sidewalks and in street gutters in the Palisades would eventually end up in the ocean.

This realization helped lead to the Prop. O stormwater project, through which a 1.25-million-gallon detention tank was built under the playground along Temescal Canyon Road, near PCH, and completed in 2015. Stormwater runoff now goes to a culvert that removes the trash, solids and waste from the water, which then flows to the Hyperion Treatment Plant.

According to DWP spokesperson Michelle Vargas in a 2012 story (“Canyon Stormwater Project Ready for Concrete Pour”), once the tank is full, the stormwater bypasses the project’s culvert, but there should be less pollutants because it is not the “first flush.”

Many people worry about the encampments that line the beaches and streets of Venice, where cleanups are not being done.

In July 2020, Councilman Mike Bonin was one of four council members who voted against resuming cleanups because of the pandemic. (Through December 17, there were 3,068 confirmed cases of Covid among the estimated 66,433 homeless.)

In a December 20 L.A. Times story (“Attorneys Decry ‘Cleanups’ of Homeless Encampments during Pandemic”), a spokesperson for the Department of Sanitation said that cleanings were being done only near A Bridge Home Shelters and at three specific locations in City Council District 15.

A December 2020 KCRW report (“LA Increases Homeless Camp Cleanups. CDC Says Unhoused People Should Stay in Place”) stated: “L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city will continue the intensive cleanings near A Bridge Home sites, while letting City Council members decide where else to add locations in their own districts.”

(Editor’s note: Proposition O authorized the City to fund projects (up to $500 million) to prevent and remove pollutants from regional waterways. Visit:!)

Trash lines the beaches in Venice by homeless encampments, and also the streets near the ocean.

Something to Consider:

A reader sent a chart showing how long it takes different items to degrade:

This entry was posted in Community, Councilman Mike Bonin, Environmental. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cleaning Streets and Encampments Keeps Trash from Flowing into the Ocean

  1. I am technically inept so when you suggest that ” [readers] share this piece of information in your network,” can you please tell me how I might post it on Facebook inasmuch as the chart resists my copy-and-paste effort. Thank you.

  2. Sue says:


    There is a link at the top of a story, and you can cut and paste the link to share.


  3. Sandy Alarcon says:


    If you have a PC with Windows, you can also use the Snipping Tool utility. Click on the Start menu (i.e., the Windows icon at the leftmost part of the Task Bar), then click on Snipping Tool; then New; then select what you want to copy; then bring up Word (new blank document) and press the CTRL V keys to paste what you’ve “snipped” to the Word document.

    Sandy A.

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