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Fresno police cite dozens of freeway litterbugs in crackdown

Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd, far left, and Fresno Police Capt. Andy Hall, second from left, and several Fresno Police motorcycle officers listen outside Fresno City Hall as City Councilman Steve Brandau discusses the city’s two-week litter-enforcement effort.
Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd, far left, and Fresno Police Capt. Andy Hall, second from left, and several Fresno Police motorcycle officers listen outside Fresno City Hall as City Councilman Steve Brandau discusses the city’s two-week litter-enforcement effort. tsheehan@fresnobee.com

Six Fresno motorcycle cops issued about 90 tickets for littering along freeways over a two-week period as part of a crackdown on trash.

Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd, City Councilman Steve Brandau and Fresno police Capt. Andy Hall announced the results of the enforcement effort Monday at Fresno City Hall. Because of the volume of tickets that the officers issued, Rudd said the project will continue through the start of the Big Fresno Fair in October.

The litter problem is important because “our freeways are very indicative of who we are as a community,” Rudd said.

Some of the citations were for trash blowing out of the beds of pickups after drivers throw something in the back with the intention of picking it up later.

What often happens, Hall said, is that papers and other material swirl around in the back and then blow out onto the road. “One piece of trash doesn’t look like much,” Hall said, holding a crumpled paper napkin. But when those individual pieces are multiplied by hundreds or thousands over time, “it becomes a huge problem.”

Hall added that the citations carry a fine of up to $400.

It’s never fun to write a ticket and it’s never fun to get a ticket, but it’s essential if we’re going to stop a bad behavior that we’ve all allowed to overtake our community.

Steve Brandau, Fresno City Councilman representing northwest Fresno

Complaints about the amount of trash along Fresno roads is not new. But Brandau and Rudd had a recent discussion about not only litter, but overgrown weeds on highway rights-of-way maintained by the California Department of Transportation.

That led to an Aug. 4 meeting with Caltrans representatives about weeds along Highways 41, 168 and 180 – a meeting that took place the same day that a rash of roadside fires broke out in weed-infested landscaping along Highway 41 and briefly threatened homes.

The state agency is in the midst of a 60-day program of work focused on catching up with mowing and cleaning up weeds in its landscape areas, and Brandau praised Caltrans for quickly addressing the city’s concerns.

But having police write tickets, Brandau added, “is essential if we are going to stop a bad behavior that we have allowed to overtake our community.”

Rudd and Hall did not have information available on the number of littering citations written by CHP officers over the two-week period.

Rudd added that weed and litter problems underscore a broader issue of taking care of highways in the area. The ticketing program “is a short-term solution to what is a fundamental flaw in the way that we fund and maintain our local freeways,” he said.

While Measure C, Fresno County’s half-cent sales tax to benefit transportation improvements, has enabled the extension of Highways 41, 168 and 180 since it was first passed in 1986, it included no money for the ongoing maintenance of those additional freeway miles – including care for landscaping.

Rudd said it is imperative for local cities, the Fresno County Council of Governments, the Fresno County Transportation Authority and Caltrans to develop “a sustainable solution” for the long-term maintenance of highways in the area.

Ticketing litterbugs

The litter- and trash-related offenses for which drivers have been cited by Fresno police on local freeways over a two-week period ending Sept. 16:

Number of tickets

Offense

26

Rubbish vehicle (commercial) must have load covered to prevent spillage

25

Depositing refuse, garbage, rock or dirt on a roadway

14

Littering

13

Load must be covered to prevent spillage on roadway

11

Throwing litter substance from a vehicle

Source: City of Fresno

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