Trash on the Street in Philadelphia (photo: PhillyMag)

Mayor Kenney Has Abandoned Any Hope of Street Cleaning


It seems like Michael Nutter cared more about this problem

These mattresses sat on Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's block long enough to turn into road signs

These mattresses sat on Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s block long enough to turn into road signs

Does anyone remember when Jim Kenney was making promises as a mayoral candidate–all the way back in 2015–about bringing back street cleaning?  I do.

It seemed gimmicky and unimaginable then when he promised to bring back regular street cleaning and it felt like a ruse to appease rowhouse dwellers who are sick of mysterious trash piles materializing all around them.  Today it feels like more was done about rando garbage under the Nutter administration.

Perhaps that’s because the Big Belly trash can program turned out to be a flop.  Or maybe it’s because of the the depressing heroin epidemic and the hundreds of tons of garbage that addicts have lined the embankment of the Conrail tracks that is now going to be bulldozed and paved over; and wherever those addicts wind up once they’re evicted–they will leave a tsunami of garbage and used needles in their wake.

And it brings a small smirk to my face that the only solutions available so far to the city’s mysterious rando garbage problem is the same fix the day I moved to Philadelphia 17 years ago….

Do it yourself.

For instance, when the Olde Richmond neighborhood was faced with a rando tire dumper it decided to send a message to the dumper by painting his tires he left there and converted them into flower beds.   So far the dumper hasn’t been back to add more tires to his collection, and security cameras added to the property have helped to dissuade the man who did it from returning.  In other cases seed bombing and guerrilla gardening is the way to go.

Civic groups cleaning up garbage themselves have seemed to be the only way to get an immediate handle on the level of stray refuse.  If your civic association doesn’t have a clean-up team, you should think about organizing one.   You can also use politics to your advantage and get the Streets Department out quickly for large cleanups.  No member of City Council wants to look like they condone dumping and random garbage except Councilman Johnson.  But even if you’re unlucky enough to have him as your Councilperson, you can get around that by contacting the Streets Department directly and asking for a liaison to attend your community meetings and show you how you can get your special cleanup work orders fast-tracked.

That’s the path to a cleaner neighborhood–which has remained virtually unchanged since John Street was mayor.   Kenney promising street cleanings?  That was just fantasy.   I’m glad you see through that now.

* Photo: PhillyMag