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