Earth Day cleanup in Boyle Heights removes syringes, tires and all sorts of trash

Josh Haskell Image
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Earth Day cleanup in Boyle Heights removes syringes, plenty of trash
Ahead of Earth Day, community members in Boyle Heights teamed up with Caltrans workers to clean up one of the dirtiest areas in the city.

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One of the dirtiest places in Southern California communities is alongside freeways, where all kinds of trash accumulates.

That's the case in Boyle Heights, where numerous freeways meet. So for this Earth Day, the community took action.

"I love my community, and the history of my community is one of being carved up by these freeways going through our neighborhood and leaving trash in the way," said Shmuel Gonzales, a member of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

"I decided that rather than just complain about it to the city and state, I wanted to volunteer and make a difference and model the change we need in our community," Gonzales said.

When Caltrans and Boyle Heights residents arrived at Whittier Boulevard and the 60 Freeway Friday morning, there was trash and graffiti everywhere.

The trash included syringes, tires, bottles and pillows. In less than 30 minutes, it was cleared, opening up the sidewalk for public use.

"Earth Day is this weekend, but do your part every single day of the year. You deserve it and our neighborhoods deserve it," said State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.

"It's going to make a big difference. Kids walk through here. Families walk through here," Santiago said. "It's where we live. It's where we play. We want it safe and clean."

"We have invested in removing litter, creating jobs, educating the public and engaging the community to transform roadside spaces into pride for all Californians," said Blanca Rodriguez, the deputy district director of Caltrans District 7.

According to the city of Los Angeles' 311 data, the last 12 months have seen a drop in illegal dumping requests since peaking in 2020. But illegal dumping requests are still at an average of more than 250 a day.

Another reason to volunteer and clean up communities this Earth Day and recycle every day is climate change.

"I think Mother Nature is telling us: 'help,'" Rodriguez said. "She's crying to make sure we take care of our Earth."