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Added Mar 20 2014

Just curious if anyone shares the observation that litter has gotten a lot worse in recent years in Lake View, why this might be, and (in the interest of positivity) what might be done about it? I'm talking about the side streets on both sides of Broadway, north of Belmont.

When I moved here 15 years ago I shared the oft-cited sentiment that "Chicago was one of the cleanest cities going, like NYC but much cleaner," etc. But no more. And I'm not talking about surprises that greet us when the snow melts - 12 months a year, beer bottles and cans remain in flower beds for days, condom wrappers in the gutters, of course, fast food wrappings and lotto tickets and Starbucks cups galore.

Thinking charitably, some of it may be blown out of the trash cans on street corners, parking receipts fallen out of cars, junk tipped out of dumpsters when the garbage trucks load them up - we are the "windy city" after all.

It's easy to blame apartment dwellers (and their visitors, and tourists) who aren't as invested in property values, but what I don't get are residences that are clearly private (and pricey) condos where trash remains on the front lawn or landscaping beds for days or weeks at a time. Many are the three- or six-flats that flew up after many private homes were torn down (but one building, with many, many more units on Aldine, is an offender as well). Are these owners busy professionals who don't give a hoot about community appearance? Folks who think "someone else will take care of it?" Are people so glued to their phones as they leave and return to their homes that they don't notice the trash?

Short of resurrecting "Give a hoot, don't pollute" signs, does anyone have concrete ideas about what can be done? While walking the dog I try to pick up larger items when I can. Not everyone has the interest or stomach for this, but it's something.

Just thinking out loud, and especially interested in ideas for moving forward, rather than kvetching.

  • Ron R Lakeview neighbor since 1998

    Following up with some ideas that might help:

    - remind maintenance contractors or supers that regular trash pickup is part of their job, or make it so if it isn't;

    - get a business, church, school or other community group (Broadway Youth Center?) to "adopt-a-block" and regularly sweep for litter, as is done with highways; ask the Chamber of Commerce to sponsor decorative signs recognizing the volunteers?

    - along those lines, maybe somehow connect donors who might provide a financial incentive for volunteers, benefiting the community group?

    - God forbid, place recycling bins on select corners, as real cities have? This might make people more conscious of litter in general and not tossing it willy nilly, especially the beer bottles and cans. Of course there is no money from city services for this and you'll get nowhere with the alderman's office, but maybe private business could support this? (The coffee shops in particular could take the lead.)

  • L

    We're on the other side of Lakeview, but South Lakeview Neighbors has a neighborhood cleanup day every April (the Saturday before Earth Day) and we encourage participation from our members. Perhaps you could contact your neighborhood group to do the same?

    (But, I agree. I'm always surprised what I see left in gardens, on sidewalks, etc. even in front of nice houses. But, then again, lots of people don't shovel either...)

  • JB in RV Chicago Homeowner

    Agree litter has gotten worse in the last 4 years since I've lived in Chicago. Seems there are no city service workers that pick up litter on the side streets, it's every neighborhood on their own.

    I think the Adopt-a-Block with the Youth Center is a great idea.

    I live in Roscoe Village and the trash lining the streets over here is disgusting. Also, be SOOO CAREFUL what you are picking up. I have found needles here and there on the ground in with the leaves and other debris. I was just in NYC a couple months back, it was 10x cleaner than Chicago. But, I suppose, the argument could be said that Chicago is much more dispersed.

  • eDowds Roscoe Village Mommie

    I also think it looks particularly bad since the melted snow has exposed a full season's worth of buried garbage. What can you do? We had so much snow all season.

  • Came here to say the same thing as eDowds: the snow has all melted thus revealing the rubbish that blew out of garbage cans and got collected by the snow plows. Normally this litter would have been swept up by street cleaners and gathered by the municipal garbage collectors. All the city needs is just a nice hard rain and a healthy sweeping.

  • It may be easy to blame renters, but they can be invested in the neighborhood in other ways than properly value. We want to live in nice looking neighborhoods too. I don't like the litter and pick up what I can on the walk to the train.

    I mainly blame redplum, phone book delivery, and businesses spamming our gates and porches with flyers. Stop those and I'd bet you'd get rid of half the litter on the street.

  • I think the problem is two factors. We've just gotten through the 3rd most snow fall in city history. Not only did it snow a lot this winter, it never really got warm enough to melt in between snow falls. So more snow piled upon more snow and the garbage got buried for the entire winter. Most winters it gets buried then a week later it all melts and gets picked up. This however still does not excuse the people who put the trash there in the first place.

    The second biggest factor is the city has cut back on everything. Need a cop, ha, good luck with that. If the city doesn't have enough police, do you think they can afford extra sanitation workers? Again, this problem does not excuse the people who litter.

    The city does have recycling can/compactors on the street corners downtown. Why can't we have these in the neighborhoods? I think Ron is right. I think these would really improve the problem.

    I'm with Jeff also. Can we please ban phone books? They are so wasteful and worst of all, no one uses them (if you still do use one, we should beat you with it).

    I also think the city should sweep the streets one extra month every year. They stop in October but all the leaves haven't fallen yet. This causes tons of leaves to collect in the gutters. The clogged gutters cause the streets to flood during every thaw. Look around, there are way more rotting leaves than litter.

  • For my neighborhood the main offenders are smokers who work in the neighborhood, high school students who linger in front of our building, and drunks at night who come from one of the many bars. I am also a renter, and I think I can speak for the people in my building who have lived in this hood longer than a lot of the home owners, that we also don't want litter in front of our building. But smokers seek out buildings like ours to smoke in front off and toss their butts on the sidewalk while they do it.

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff because it contains inappropriate content.
  • Nick Lincoln Park resident since 1998

    Yesterday I saw a man picking up litter with a grabber while walking his dog. This inspired me to do the same. Hopefully more people will pick up on this (no pun intended).

  • JB in RV Chicago Homeowner

    The smokers who insist on throwing their cig butts need to get lost. It's disgusting. It can take up to 10 years for one of those to decompose. I'd like to see stiffer penalties on the littering for these.

    Additionally, homeownership via payments in tax dollars increases the skin in the game mentality and pride of one's home and living situation. I am not saying all renters are bad. But there are buildings upon buildings in this city of people who just don't care about anything because it's not theirs. Thank you to the renters who are mature and take pride in their living areas.

    Litter has gotten worse. Look at the alley ways and the people that can't seem to hit the garbage can with their trash. Ever. Or in front of my building on Roscoe, how some moron decided to clean out his car last week and leave all of his garbage (paystubs, children's old homework, McDonalds bags, etc) just out on my lawn. With the ridiculous amount real estate costs in this city along with the high taxes, I expect more in terms of trash receptacles, recycling bins, etc. It seems our city gov't doesn't put near the love into the neighborhoods as they do the fabulous loop and Navy Pier, and that's just not ok.

  • I've noticed it too. I have seen a group in a van who comes along and picks up trash and litter -- I think they're a hired service -- and they clean up the boys town bar stretch on Halsted. It'd be great to see something like that for Broadway as well. I tend to see the biggest uptick on large party nights (weekends, St. Pattys, etc.) Obviously, trying to get the drunks to be more respectable of property might be too difficult, so yeah. Maybe contacting the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. It's in their best interest as well to attract more businesses to the area.

    Maybe while they're at it, they can sweep up the horrible racists in the community as well. Not that I'm calling anyone out or anything (cough cough). Let's clean up ALL the trash.

  • Ron R Lakeview neighbor since 1998

    I almost hesitated posting this in March, with mounds of ice and snow still lingering; I don't think it's a "bad winter" problem at its core. I wanted to post this last summer but EveryBlock was in suspended animation. The beer bottles and cans that would remain on lawns and curbs, in shrubs (a biggie for some reason), and in front or churches and schools (!!) for days really got to me. I saw more yesterday on my rounds. I do think things have gotten worse in recent years.

    So glad EB is back so we can vent and more importantly, brainstorm on this topic.

    After posting the original post, I walked my dog and noticed lots of litter along our curb and streetside landscaping, so got a trash bag and went to work. Every little bit helps.

  • L

    Along Belmont, Ashland, and Lincoln on the west side of Lake View are garbage cans paid for by an SSA managed by the Chamber over here. I assume the east side Chamber has something similar. However, those cans are on the commercial streets not on the more residential blocks.

    I have to admit that we're likely going to leave LV next year. We are still making our decision, but we are leaning toward moving. The lack of shoveling, the trash plopped next to the cans because people are too lazy to walk 20 feet further down the alley, the people who are too lazy to put the recycling in the recycling can vs. the garbage can, the stolen mail/packages, the lack of police, my plants being destroyed, the neighbor who lets his weeds grow over 6ft tall and never picks up his dog waste in his backyard (yay, stinky rat carnival), the litter, etc., etc. Of course, other variables go into making this decision, but the lack of caring about the neighborhood is a big one. I have met some really great, neighborly people here. I enjoy living on my quiet block and moving probably isn't the best decision financially, but it is one we may make.

  • ron.on.surf 35 yr lakeview resident

    Owned a home here for too many yrs now. Yes the attitude of people has changed. We are becoming a 3rd world country. A lot of people are too busy on their smart phones, holding their Starbucks coffee while "walking" their dogs to put something down and pick up after the beast. That's OK because the next person comming along steps in it and proceeds to either spread it along the entire sidewalk or scrape it off on your front steps.
    These people are so important in themselves it's the newest generations way. Unfortunately it's a sign of the times. Entitled attitudes.

  • I just picked up about 20 wet newspapers from my neighbors yard because I got tired of looking at them, stilled rolled up in plastic sleeves. I had asked the renter next door to pick them up and he scoffed at me. I didn't deserve attitude for asking someone to spend a few minutes a week to pick up the yard. I wish those free newspapers, phone books and menus were banned from being left on houses. Fortune Restoration stands out as a repeat offender. A-Z Moving seems to have subsided, but their fluorescent business cards used to really upset me. Melting snow is no excuse. Litter is litter and it's frustrating that more people don't seem to care. I'm sure a month from now someone will still have a phonebook in a blue bag sitting on their steps. I think a lot of the trash in the alleys comes from scavengers going through the trash, tearing open bags. Often times garbage bins are opened, with the lid flipped all the way back and the whole bin pushed back. I have no problem with people rummaging through garbage put please show some consideration. South Lakeview, where I live has almost no corner garbage cans. I lived in Uptown for four years and while I didn't love the neighborhood, I will say that street corners had trash bins. I think that fines for not keeping a property maintained, not shoveling and not raking leaves should be documented and added to property taxes. Then maybe people would have incentive to do their fair share. Is it an American thing to think "it's not my problem?" I was in Tokyo last year and despite it's huge size, it was so clean and pleasant and orderly. I was really impressed. Picking up litter takes so little time, it doesn't cost anything, and the reward immediate.

  • Cleaning up in front of our building for years and years, busy pedestrian street. Nobody else is going to do it. Sometimes passersby throw more trash down while I am out there picking up!

  • It's the winter. And when it's not the winter it's the aftermath of a big weekend festival, Cubs game, or other large event and then by Tuesday it's gone. Remember those events drive tax dollars into our community.
    As far as beer bottles in flower beds? It's not the cities responsibility to pick up liter on private property. The "boulevard" area between the sidewalk and street is the property owners responsibility to clean. The deal is the property owner doesn't get taxed on the extra space and in return they maintain it. City cleans curbs and maintains sidewalks.

  • L

    I don't think anyone is suggesting the city clean up the boulevard. We're suggesting the trash not get thrown there in the first place. It isn't like there aren't garbage/recycling cans in every alley.

    And, I don't live near Cubs stadium or the big festivals, yet I'm cleaning up cans, bottles, paper, etc. on a regular basis. So, it isn't just those events causing the problem.

  • The Crusty Pirate Old crotchety pirate captain (retired)

    Yes - the heavy snow is just now melting away - exposing all the littering that's been taking place throughout the winter season. Pretty, isn't it ? More garbage cans ? More city cleanup services ? How 'bout teaching people to do what they should be doing for themselves anyway ?

    Some folks, evidently, weren't around for the anti-litter campaign and public service messages of the 1970's and 80's. Perhaps we should 'put a new coat of paint' on those messages and bring them back - in force.

    some nostalgia for you:
    http://youtu.be/j7OHG7tHrNM

    If folks never learned that it's shameful to wallow in litter and that it suggests a lack of self respect - they're sure not going to be conveying that message to their children - and on and on... The littering habit is most prevalent in youth and cleaner habits develop over a lifetime*. Feel free to look it up - research for yourself. So, the greatest ROI in anti-littering is in focusing resources toward teaching children better habits.

    The most effective teaching tool ?

    It's not a 'fluffy answer' - it's 'shame'.

    What's more effective:
    "Please do not Litter" or "We do not Litter"

    The social reinforcement message, 'We do not Litter', is most effective because the 'respectability versus shame intuition'* is a powerful part of human nature.

    personally, I'd prefer:
    "Respect Yourself - Do Not Litter"
    - in all applicable translations, of course.

    -just sayin'

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