The Optimized Street Sweeping Program (i.e. Sweepergate)

street sweeping signThe Optimized Weekly Street Sweeping Program requires that the City: 1) install catch basin trash screens to prevent trash from entering the catch basins; 2) install line of sight “No Parking for Street Sweeping” signs to inform drivers of parking restrictions; and 3) implement increased enforcement of parking restrictions through parking tickets. This matter initially came before the council at the 22 April 2014 meeting. At that meeting as many as 30 residents stayed until nearly 1 AM to voice concerns about the proposed Program. Due to the concerns raised, the Council reluctantly agreed to postpone the decision on the implementation of the Program until after the newly elected council was installed in July which would supposedly allow the City more time to conduct community outreach.

In mid-May the City mailed a brochure to approximately 30,000 residents informing them briefly about the proposed Program and inviting them to attend “A Second Public Meeting” at the 20 May 2014 council meeting should they want to learn more. Surprisingly, the City decided to rule on the issue at the 20 May 2014 meeting instead of hold a public hearing on the matter. The reason for moving the decision up to before the 03 June Election as previously communicated was never explained. Again, many residents stayed at the meeting until 1 AM to voice concerns about the Program. Despite the concerns raised, the Council unanimously voted to approve the Program.

In ruling in favor of the Program, the Council claimed that: 1) it was a state mandate that would result in fines upwards of $10,000 a day if not implemented; 2) it would lead to substantially lower levels of pollutants in our water systems; and that 3) most residents are in favor of it.

Many questions abound as to the accuracy of these assertions.  How come, for example, other cities like the City of Ranchos Palos Verdes – a city that also has run-off flowing into the same Machado Lake waters that Torrance is apparently concerned about – only performs street sweeping once a month in residential areas and doesn’t ticket residents? Shouldn’t this lax street sweeping Program subject that city to the same fine Torrance is concerned about? How come large sections of Torrance in commercial areas are not subject to the new Street Sweeping guidelines?  Where is the the exact language from the state statute that would require this Program or impose the $10K a day fine?  What scientific studies is the City relying upon to demonstrate that this Program will have the desired effect in decreasing pollutants?  What evidence does the City have that would indicate most residents are in favor of the Program?

street sweeping ticketThe inability or unwillingness of Torrance officials to address these questions, as well as the manner in which the Program was passed, has raised the ire of many residents and provoked suspicions among the community that this Program is designed more to increase City revenue through parking tickets than it is to reduce pollutants. The street sweeping program has even sparked allegations of fraudulent and unethical behavior on the part of City officials.

For more comprehensive information on this issue please see the attached links.

Sweepergate Analysis – Allegations of Fraud and Unethical Behavior

Street Sweeping; Sifting Through the City Propaganda

Democracy is Dead in the City of Torrance

An Open Call to Residents Concerning Blight of Signs

An Alternative Approach to the Street Sweeping Program

Street Sweeping Fallacies

Torrance Optimized Street Sweeping – Proof of a Hidden Agenda

Street Sweeping Program Environmental Impact Study

Torrance Ticketing Revenue Scheme

City Staff Report

11 comments

  • Curtis Uyeda

    I, for one, like the idea of street sweeping signs. On my street, half the residents do not use their garages and the have upwards of 6 cars, half which never move. You have several homes with multiple families living in them. The only reason I park 2 of my cars in the street is to keep neighbors from parking there. Rolling Hills Estates does not allow overnight parking, forcing residents to limit the amount of cars they have and/or use their garages.

    • Great points, but I’m not sure the Street Sweeping mandate will address the concern you raised because it only requires that residents move their cars from one side of the street during the street sweeping hours. Thus, I’m not sure you will see less people utilizing overnight street parking. Are you suggesting that Torrance should implement an ordinance that would limit overnight parking as Rolling Hills apparently has? By the way, just to clarify the City of Ranchos Palos Verdes mentioned in the article does allow overnight street parking. Also, I might mention that some cities like Mission Viejo have a voluntary street sweeping program that seems to work quite well for them. See link below.

      http://cityofmissionviejo.org/departmentpage.aspx?id=1238

      • David Martin

        Btw, every time a vehicle is started emissions are emitted to the air we breathe. The first 2 minutes of engine run time is when most emissions happen. If you move your car 2x per week times all the cars in the sweeping area in Torrance time 365 weeks, that is way more significant than any pollution from rain water!!!! Dumbest thing I have seen in Torrance politics.

  • Jeanne Ogaz

    This environmental impact study make some excellent points. Thanks for such great work, I hope it pays off.

  • Anonymous

    Have you ever driven down streets where people don’t move their cars? They are filthy. You can literally see where the street sweeper cleaned and where they didn’t. The city has to make people move their cars, or they just won’t. Everybody knows which day the sweeper comes down their street, and the bad eggs ruin it for the rest of us. That’s what government is for… it makes the idiots who ignore the rules pay attention.

  • Anonymous

    Most of the debris in the streets is from the city planted trees. A majority of these trees are overgrown and are causing sidewalks to be raised, streets to be raised and residential sewage drains to clog. Cut down the trees to minimize the amount of debris flowing into the drainage system.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with “Anonymous” who is in favor of having the street signs. My neighbors park for days and do not move when the street is to be cleaned. When it goes around that vehicle and cuts back in, most of the debris lands in front of my house. If I don’t want the water to back up from runoff down the street, I have to clean it up myself. This has been going on for years. Instant gratification is alive and well when people complain about the signs. Too bad. If it is too much of an effort to move your car, then trade it in for a bicycle.

    Home Owner in Favor of Signs.

  • Linda Gottshall-Sayed

    I just came across these. I can vouch that MY street (on which I have resided for over 18 years) NEVER had mandatory vehicle removal for street cleaning. Ever since this City repaired and repaved and repaired the curbs and sidewalks back in the 2000-2005 era, my street has been spotless. Most cars were not on the street at the time time the street cleaner came through at that time, and if they were, the street sweeper just went around them. But that street sweeper sprayed oodles of water with the sweeper. Now, signs are up, and street cleaning on both sides begins at 8 am. So, cars may still be on the street at the time the sweeper (and enforcement vehicle) come by. I’ve noticed there is virtually no water from the sweeper either. It appears as if that sweeper is moving at a good clip, 25 mph, and simply pulling up the dirty and rolling it in a circle on the pavement. It’s almost comical. Conclusion: I now have mandatory vehicle remover and my street is dirtier. Government action at its best.

  • Anonymous

    I too have noticed the same street sweeper issue. The sweeper is moving rapidly and stirring up a huge dust cloud. Our wonderful ocean breeze just sends all that dirt directly into any open windows of adjacent homes. I own a corner property and get the dirt cloud from two sides. I have often observed the sweeper just racing through the neighborhood not cleaning the street at all. Also the biggest contributor to street trash in my neighborhood is trash flying out of refuse trucks and drivers dropping debris in the street as they empty curbside containers. They never pickup the mess they make.

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