“Clean cities are livable cities,” Mayor Vince Gray said upon announcing the program Wednesday. “But the Department of Public Works can’t be expected to clean up after all of our residents. Sometimes we have to bring the force of law to bear to make sure our residents and visitors are treat our city as they would their own homes.”
Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the department has been interested in cracking down on littering. But police needed the D.C. Council to change city liter laws so police could ticket not only drivers who throw trash from windows, but also pedestrians who drop their garbage. Lawmakers responded to Lanier’s request and the new city law is now enforceable, she said.
Lanier said cleaning up dirty streets is similar to efforts in New York City in the 1990s to prevent crime by cracking down on curbside window washers and jaywalkers.
“Trash left in the public space creates the appearance that nobody in the neighborhood cares,” she said. “A lot of residents have been asking us for this.”
Some of the loudest were in the department’s 4th District, which covers portions of Wards 4 and 5, Lanier said. It’s in that district that the pilot program will begin. It will later expand to a citywide crackdown.