Part of the Fresno experience is to see debris flying from a rubbish hauler’s trailer or truck as you drive a freeway. We are not surprised that 26 commercial vehicles were cited by Fresno police during a two-week crackdown on littering.
In the period ending Sept. 16, a total of 89 people received citations. With fines running as high as $400 per citation, we hope that people are getting the message that City Hall and hundreds of thousands of Fresno residents are fed up with the roads that look like dumps.
Litter may be no big deal to some misinformed souls. But litter, trash and abandoned items along our roadways give a false impression that the overwhelming number of residents don’t care about our city and country.
A city’s image matters – to residents, potential investors and leaders of businesses looking to expand or relocate their operations. Few things turn people off as quickly as seeing garbage strewn all over the place like you might expect in a Third World country.
Fresno City Manger Bruce Rudd nailed it when he said at a news conference Monday that “our freeways are very indicative of who we are as a community.”
Fresno police Capt. Andy Hall also was on the mark with this observation that “one piece of trash doesn’t look like much,” but when those individual pieces are multiplied by hundreds or thousands over time, “it becomes a huge problem.”
We’d rather see the Fresno police officers assigned to this effort focus instead on traffic enforcement and patrolling neighborhoods. Unfortunately, freeway litter had become so out of hand that city leaders were forced to target litterbugs.
Keeping Fresno clean and tidy starts with everyone making a concerted effort to put their trash where it belongs. Commercial rubbish haulers and landscape gardeners need to keep their loads secure and covered. Pickup truck drivers need to check their beds and remove small items before taking off. If they don’t, those items are likely to fly out at freeway speeds.
We shouldn’t have to say it, but we will: People who toss coffee cups and cigarette butts and empty ashtrays in the roadway are lazy, disgusting and disrespectful of themselves and society. Though they don’t think of themselves as such, they are vandals. They best straighten up before a citation lightens their wallets by several hundred dollars.
Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau deserves recognition for his leadership in calling attention to the freeway litter problem and for working with Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration to come up with solutions.
We have many challenges to overcome in making Fresno a better place for everyone. Litter should not be one of them.