‘It looks like a battle zone’: Volunteers clean up trash-clogged stretch of Ladera Heights

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Christian Bordal

Ran Craycraft’s group of volunteers get together for their September 2021 trash pick-up. Photo courtesy of Ran Craycraft.

On the first Saturday each month in Ladera Heights, a group of volunteers picks up trash on the side of the road, in public places where everybody can see. Ran Craycraft started the group, and he says Ladera Heights is a beautiful neighborhood except for one stretch. “Going down La Cienega after you come off of Slauson, and it looks like a battle zone.”

He says Ladera Heights is a combination of LA County, LA City, and Inglewood. “A lot of this [trash] ends up in LA City. And county has been very helpful with us through the Department of Public Works to get the LA County part of this cleaned up. But city doesn't have the resources, and county doesn't want to pick that up for them.”

He adds that LA City supposedly doesn't have the funds/resources to go out and keep the median clean. 

“Several residents and myself, we don't want to look at this anymore. If they're not going to do it, unfortunately, we're going to get out there and we're going to do it ourselves.”

Craycraft started doing the clean-up himself, and one day, he saw a man across the street from him, as they were by the dirtiest part of La Cienega. He introduced himself, and the two told neighbors about the issue, then got the Ladera Heights Civic Association involved.

“We’re 28 months in, and what started as one or two volunteers, we had 40 this past month.”

He says each month, the volunteers pick up about 1,000 pounds of trash that fill 25-50 giant contractor bags. They put some of the bags into their cars and take them home. The mall nearby, Ladera Center, allows some bags to go into their dumpsters. And LA County has given them some drop-off zones. “As long as we have a big mountain of garbage bags there and let them know, they'll pick it up the following Monday.”

Why is there more trash anyway? It’s partly because of proximity to SoFi Stadium and development in the area. 

“People are spending more time in their cars, they're going through more drive-thrus, they're in a hurry. And just with the increased volume of traffic going to the airport and the new SoFi stadium, they're getting out of their house, and there's more trash that's ending up on our streets,” says Craycraft. 

Craycraft has called the City of LA and are in close communication with City Councilmember Mike Bonin. “But as we're told, if the money's just not there, they can't send people out to keep it clean. It's unfortunate. I would definitely like more support there. But I know Councilmember Bonin has a lot on his plate.”

Credits

Guest:

  • Ran Craycraft - Founder of a group of trash pick-up volunteers in Ladera Heights