Philadelphia Streets Department to better enforce illegal dumping

There are no surveillance cameras installed in the area surrounding Main Campus.

One of several newly installed surveillance cameras at the corner of 9th Street and Venango Street near Temple Health Science Campus. The cameras were installed by the City of Philadelphia as part of its efforts to curb illegal dumping. | DYLAN LONG / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The city is installing surveillance cameras to curb illegal dumping in problem areas, university and city officials told The Temple News last week. 

No cameras are located within a one-mile radius of Main Campus, where residents often complain of student garbage dumping, and officials have not yet determined whether the program will include this area. Some residents and students hope the program is implemented nearby. 

The Philadelphia Streets Department and Philadelphia Police will install 50 surveillance cameras by this summer in areas with high rates of illegal dumping to reduce illegal dumping violations. Fifteen cameras are already installed throughout the city. 

The surveillance cameras ensure photo evidence of offenders can be used against them in court, and violators will be subject to fines of up to $5,000 or up to six months of incarceration. 

The Streets Department used “strategic placement” to determine the location of security cameras, said Carlton Williams, the department commissioner. Some of the city’s most affected areas are neighborhood lots, street corners, vacant properties or poorly lit areas, he added. 

It is unclear if the city will install cameras around Main Campus. 

Illegal dumping costs the city about $1.5 million annually in clean-up projects. According to the Zero Waste Litter Progress Report, North Central Philadelphia, which encompasses Main Campus, had the highest Litter Index Score in 2017. 

The area surrounding the university needs more dumping enforcement, said Evelina Verges, who lives on Diamond Street near 13th.

“It should be implemented around here because a lot of students do dump their stuff everywhere, and it’s not heavily regulated,” Verges added. “It makes me so mad because it’s such a huge problem and it’s still going on, and it’s only gonna get worse.”

The Streets Department’s illegal dumping program has been successful so far, Williams said, and many offenders are in the process of being prosecuted. Several of the camera locations are trash-free and staying that way, he added.

“You walk three blocks any direction off campus, you’re going to find illegal dumping,” said Jubilee Holland, a freshman biology major.

The university has several initiatives to improve the area around Main Campus, like the Good Neighbor Initiative, which aims to mitigate the surrounding area’s large-scale garbage problem, control noise and foster relationships between students and community residents.

North Philadelphia residents and students should take advantage of other street clean-up programs, Williams said, including the recently launched PhilaCan program, which places a municipal trash can in front of homes upon request. 

“We need to start doing more for our community,” Verges said. “Especially off-campus, because [garbage] creates a huge problem for the people who have been living here for a really long time, and we need to respect that.”

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