I was preparing a presentation for the Baton Rouge Landscape Association and was asked by a member to address the unprofessional and unsightly manner of blowing yard debris into our city’s streets. I needed to learn if this practice was unlawful.
“Are lawn grass clippings and leaves defined as litter when intentionally discarded into the street?” That was the question I posed last March to the Lieutennant Governor, the East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President, the Department of Public Works, Keep Louisiana Beautiful and my councilman. The only response I received was from my councilman’s legislative assistant.
This was just a few days after the Lieutennant Governor announced a partnership between the anti-litter group, Keep Louisiana Beautiful, his office, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and the Office of Motor Vehicles to raise awareness of the consequences of littering and illegal dumping. The zero tolerance policy was called “Pick It Up or Pay It Out.”
There is an ordinance on the books titled, “Sweeping litter into gutters prohibited.” It is found at: Title 6, Chapter 4, Part III – Anti-litter Regulations, Sec. 6:430. It reads, “No person shall sweep into or deposit in any gutter, street or other public place within the city-parish the accumulation of litter from any building or lot or from any public or private sidewalk or driveway. Persons owning or occupying property shall keep the sidewalk in front of their premises free of litter.”
As a homeowner and citizen in East Baton Rouge Parish and a professional with interests in the landscape industry, I have always been troubled by the disposal of yard debris (grass clippings and tree leaves) being intentionally blown into the city’s streets by landscape professionals, homeowners and even our own Department of Public Works parish employees. The practice of “Mow-Blow-and Go” is not acceptable!
This debris ends up in the storm drains hindering water flow, especially critical during heavy rainfall and hurricanes, and also causes water pollution, low oxygen levels and increased algal growth that impacts aquatic fish kills – not to mention it looks terrible and ugly. We have way too much litter already being wantonly disposed of by citizens who don’t care about our community, tourism and economic development. We don’t need to further add to this litter problem.
The definition of “litter” is the basic question. I hope the state’s and city’s efforts include this method of disposal of yard waste as litter. I believe identification and enforcement would be easy since this littering is very visible from the street and it is performed over a time period (as opposed to a single instant of throwing something out of a car window) and the debris disposed can easily be documented by place of origin and time of offense.
If you blow yard debris into the street or hire a landscape service that does so, STOP! Your neighbors don’t appreciate you littering their neighborhood and city streets. This makes an unfavorable impression on visitors and tourists. It reflects an overall attitude lacking of concern for our community and state. It hurts business and cost citizens money.