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Should a street-cleaning program be introduced? Squilla says so

While steps have been made to improve the trash problem throughout Philadelphia, there’s still so much more that needs to be done to improve the streets of our city. So what would it be like if a street sweeping program was brought back?

 Litter at 12th and McKean

Litter at 12th and McKean

With a new mayor in office, some forgotten bills are moving forward, including those that will help reduce waste. Councilman Mark Squilla has his eye on the future and some bigger issues, with the hope of bringing a street-cleaning program back.

Before the street-cleaning program is even close to becoming a reality, Squilla is already expecting some outrage from South Philadelphians.


“I still think we need a street-cleaning program,” he said. “Now, my South Philly brethren will probably freak out about it. But I would be a proponent.”

The street-cleaning program wouldn’t happen for some time still, but Squilla is currently moving forward with a bill to reduce shopping bag waste by charging a five-cent fee for both paper and plastic bags.

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In June, Squilla introduced a bill that would have imposed a five-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags, but he never held a hearing.

“During the process, obviously, there’s some lobbying that goes on for the chemical companies who make the bags,” he said last week. “And we didn’t really have everything worked out to get enough support from Council and the administration to move forward.”

Squilla plans to reintroduce the bill in February.

At the recent Jim Kenney town hall meetings, the trash problem in South Philly was emphasized. While they’re hoping to add more trash cans, especially those pedal-operated BigBellys, there’s so much more that needs to be done to fix this problem. Regular clean-ups can help, but Kenney believes that the community also needs to work on cleaning the streets, since streets “don’t get dirty again from the sky.” We previously shared with you a guide with advice to help improve the trash problem on your street.

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60 Responses to Should a street-cleaning program be introduced? Squilla says so

  1. Lizziehope January 6, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    Amen! I moved to S. Philly from NYC this summer and its the one thing I constantly comment on. The amount of random garbage that gathers at my stoop is ridiculous. Alternate side of the street parking sucks but it is really better than constantly picking up what is blowing down the street.

    • David January 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

      There are no trash cans around for people to throw their garbage in. For a city with so many people, it makes complete sense for people to throw whatever trash they may be carrying to the ground. Not one trash can to be found while walking down broad from Oregon to Snyder. I don’t blame them.

      • R Young January 9, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

        The Streets Dept has found that street cans get used for dumping household trash, so they have scaled them back to only commercial areas. There are plenty of street cans along the commercial corridors in South Philly.

        And if you can’t carry your trash a few block to a can or till you get home, there’s something wrong with you.

      • ks January 12, 2016 at 11:32 am #

        It’s not just litter bugs – windy trash days are a major contributor to the problem. Some cities have trash containers with uniform requirements that are compatible with certain types of trash trucks. They generally have hinged lids and wheels. Philly lets people use any old trash can you get at the hardware store. Trash and recycling end up blowing all over the place.

    • Dean Stankiewicz January 9, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      How about stopping the constant bombardment of menus and flyers and the trash bomb that goes of every Wednesday when South Philly review is thrown all over the place !!! Also so the one big problem with trash cans is that certain individuals can’t seem to wait till trash day to throw they’re trash out like every body else, so they use public trash cans as they’re personal dumpsters , when they can’t squeeze they’re trash in they just leave next to can , sometimes you see ten bags and a mattress next to a public trash can .

    • Enb January 10, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

      I believe a lot of it is from improperly contained recycling. Do they still have trash police

  2. Ian January 6, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    Can we teach people how to secure their trash while we’re at it?
    I see stacks of loose junk and untied bags all the time. One gust of wind and now its everywhere.

    Also whatever crappy pizzeria has stuck their pamphlets in everyones door (despite numerous no hand-out stickers)

  3. Carol Lamitina January 6, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    Bring back street cleaning to our South Phila. Neighborhoods….let’s clean up South Phila. Bring back block captains too!!!

  4. Kat January 6, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    Yes, please bring back street cleaning! The small percentage of people who oppose think that street cleaning is an inconvenience – and probably also think voting is an inconvenience.

    South Philadelphia needs street cleaning! Is there already a support petition going around?

    • Jneen January 6, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

      It wasn’t only an inconvenience it was also ineffective. Dry brushes spinning around the dirt as they passed while the city made a mint on the extra parking tickets. And I do vote FYI

  5. Lou_100x January 6, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    Bring it back! And ENFORCE the no-parking regulations, not just for street cleaning, but everything from parking on the corner to parking on the sidewalk.

    • PhillyBORN January 6, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      Go Park Yourself!

      Where do yall exspect us to put these damn cars.
      Especially with all the 2hr parking signs and no parking signs that are popping up EVERYWHERE
      Doesnt the city get enough on my money without sending their storm troppers the PPA to ticket everyone

      And these trash men are the worse, they have a decent city job but dont care about carelessly tossing trash all over as they dispose of it.

      I dont mind the trashy streets tho, gives this city character. ALL these New Yorkers need to get lost, everything they are endorsing is what made their city too expensive to live in the first place.
      Theyre driving out the poorer natives and philly is becoming harder and harder to live in for those who grew up here.

      • SoCrisp January 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

        Lord have mercy I hope this is satire.

      • Chuck January 6, 2016 at 7:17 pm #

        I think Philly would be better without native born people who can’t spell correctly and just bitch about any idea that tries to make their neighborhood better.

        • Kmac January 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm #


        • Ed Donato January 8, 2016 at 11:38 am #

          Very snarkey. Instead of discussing the issue….Lets have a Spelling Contest.

      • Parking Police January 7, 2016 at 11:39 am #

        Parking!!! Rahhhhh!!!!

      • Newcomer January 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

        Character, huh? :)) This neighborhood is disgustingly dirty. I love my house, but I hate the area where I live. Dog shit, paper, cigarette butts, broken glass and styrofoam containers everywhere. Every week I must clean in front of my house, and this if I am lucky and nobody leaves some big crap right in front of my door. There are a lot of hardworking, nice and proud homeowners (most of them are native Philadelphians, btw), but also a lot of trashy people who litter everything, walk the streets in dirty pajamas and wife-beaters (a South Philly staple :))) and talk dirty and loud. Being poor has nothing to do with being dirty and trashy. Yes, trash cans are needed, but also street cleaning is needed. I get all the flyers and newspapers, like everybody else, but it’s never such a big deal to pick them up and trash them. I would love to see people being fined for littering and also for not cleaning the snow in front of their houses in the winter (walking along Moyamensing last winter was a nightmare). Also, I would love to see every business that sells food having a trash can near the door, as is required by a city ordinance. And yes, I would love to see people fined for parking on the curbs and in the middle of the street. The city gets money from everybody, including people who wants to live in a clean, decent neighborhood. Not enough parking? Get rid of some of the damn cars, you live in a city with great public transportation.

        • Enb January 10, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

          There are stickers for your door to stop circulars and flyers. City web page

  6. Levana January 6, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Yesssssssss! It’s the only way to keep our streets clean. All the “Unlitter Us” ads in the world won’t help.

  7. SouthPhilly January 6, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    If you want to curb litter in the area, you’ll need to send most of the population to some sort of re-education camp. Kenney won’t say it in so many words, but the people are the problem

    • Heidi January 9, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      I’m sorry but I disagree, there’s no way the amount of trash that swirls around this area is due to just litterbugs. It’s due to some people not securing their trash properly but it’s also businesses that bombard the neighborhood with unwanted menus and flyers not to mention the trash people being some of the laziest I’ve ever witnessed. It’s time for some scheduled street cleaning to occur.

  8. Steve January 6, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Absolutely! My block (9th between Morris and Moore) is constantly littered and the only reason it even looks presentable is because me and a few other neighbors try to keep up with sweeping up. I agree with the other commenter above that the people are the problem though. I can’t tell you how many people I have yelled at when I catch them dumping their garbage on the street or shoving it down a sewer drain.

    • SouthPhilly January 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Throwing trash in the sewer drain is probably another proud south philly ‘tradition’ not to be messed with, though.

    • adamz January 6, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

      I’m right around the corner from you on 10th. A big problem is the four schools in the vicinity; a lot of times it’s the kids littering.

  9. Jon Geeting January 6, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    Yes! Cleaning the streets is a municipal problem more than it is an individual problem. People can be as perfect as humanly possible and sweep their sidewalks every day, but it’s still not going to make a dent in the problem without a street sweeper being able to clean right up the curb. Moving your car a few times a month isn’t a big deal.

  10. Craig Amarnick January 6, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    Please introduce a street cleaning program. I hope the Business Improvement District program goes through which would take care of the trash in our area, but would love something sooner. Parts of S 8th St. are filled with trash. I love our new house and neighborhood, but hate the trash.

  11. enneirda January 6, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    YES YES and YES. I live on Federal street and am CONSTANTLY picking of Pat’s and Geno’s labeled trash. I am not the least bit anti-business, but I don’t think it would be unfair to charge back a portion of the cost to those with the clientele that seem to be the biggest offenders–yup, it would be ANOTHER cost of doing business in philadelphia, boo-hoo.

  12. bjguzzi January 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Ever follow a trash truck down any given block? They nonchalantly toss bags and trash ten feet over cars into the back of the trucks with little or no inhibition to get the rebound when they miss or a bag rips open. I cringe walking down my block on Thursday after they get done, it’s disgusting how much is left behind. How about implementing a site where we can give them dings or citations? Or an initiative where we can tip them quarterly for a job well done? I’d toss them a $20 every once in a while to entice them to actually clean/remove waste. You’d swear their mission statement said otherwise.

    • james January 6, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

      Agreed 100%!! I often say the street is more messy AFTER the trash truck comes. Always so much broken glass and who knows what left in the middle of the street after they come!

    • Bobby January 6, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

      When I see sanitation workers, I mostly see folks working hard at a tough job, even if they are sometimes messy.

      • bjguzzi January 6, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

        I won’t argue with you there. I’m not necessarily targeting the workers themselves, they’re victims of completing their route in a timely fashion. But they are part of the mess and it would be nice to see a program or a change enable them to do a better job.

      • Heidi January 9, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

        They need to do a better job, I mean if the majority of us pulled half-baked attempts like that at our job, we would no longer have one.

        • Brian M January 14, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

          I think trash cans with hinged lids and trash trucks outfitted with forks to lift them would go along way to reduce this. this is a proven technology and lots of municipalities are adopting this.

  13. Anthony January 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    Yes! Please bring back street cleaning. There is no way to keep the street clean without it. Cleaning sidewalks is good, and should continue, but the only way to keep streets clean is to MOVE your car a couple/few times a month so we can clean the trash up! And this will make parking better in the long run, because unused cars will disappear instead of sitting in the street indefinitely.

  14. 12th Street January 6, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    I think street sweeping is a great idea. I also lived in New York for a time in the Bronx and they swept streets twice a day and also handed out $50 tickets for trash that was on people’s property and not putting your garbage out properly. We already have PPA people walking all over the city give them the ability to ticket for improper bagging and putting out of garbage and recycling and not cleaning up your steep and sidewalk area.

  15. Roger Sutherland January 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Do it for the improvement of stormwater quality even if it drains to a combined sewage system. In fact that could be the way to pay for the cleaning activities. For more information on how effective street sweeping can be in removing pollutants from stormwater contact me at And yes an effective street cleaning program will remove 99+% of the litter as well….Litter is the easy part….fine sediments that contain toxic contaminants is the hard part!!!

  16. Lindsey January 6, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

    Yes! Please! Litter begets more litter – if there is less around, people will be less likely to carelessly toss it or let it lay. But I wonder, is street cleaning possible on our many narrow side streets (where cars can only park on one side)? We have small trash trucks – are there small street cleaning trucks too? The larger/arterial streets and commercial corridors are surely the priority, but litter is still a problem on my small residential block.

  17. Bobby January 6, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    Street cleaning sounds like a basic service people expect from their government.

  18. DB January 6, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    Yes! On our Bella Vista block we just started collecting $8 a month per house interested and pay someone to sweep our street twice a month – what a difference! The amount of people who just don’t care is disheartening. We only have parking on one side of street and if done consistently it looks great, not a problem.

  19. JimKenneySucks January 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    Why don’t we make some of the undocumented Mexicans in this great “sanctuary city” clean the streets with leaf blower backpacks?

    • SP007 January 6, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

      A fine example of citizenry and humanity right here …
      (And yes, that was sarcasm, folks.)
      Why don’t you go blow some leaves?

    • ian January 7, 2016 at 7:18 am #


    • SouthPhilly January 7, 2016 at 9:37 am #

      I wonder which Mummer club this guy is in.

    • Al January 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Where I live, all the Mexicans seem to be busy all day working hard to make money. And then there are the South Philadelphians who drink on their porch and collect welfare while being racist…

    • R Young January 9, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

      I’m sure they’d be happy to, if you pay them.

      There are a lot of Hispanic immigrant in my neighborhood. I’ve never seen any of them littering.

      The white “natives”… on the other hand….

  20. Adam January 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    This should absolutely be implemented. Neighbors should also keep their own blocks clean but that doesn’t Happen. The apartments at 800 S. 7th put their trash out any/every night of the week. It ends up all over the street. I’ve cleaned it up often but it’s still not enough. There also need to be much more significant fines and better enforcement from Streets Dept.

  21. Sue January 7, 2016 at 5:42 am #

    It is a health issue for the community. There is sharp material metal shards, glass, needles,drug paraphernalia, spit phlegm , mucus, blood,excrement, urine. It is appalling with the taxes paid that we can’t have a mini sidewalk cleaner to do the sidewalks once a week. Like they have uptown. Also a manual sweeper and street cleaning machine. They should be scheduled to follow the trash trucks since them guys throw it all over the street,trying to get it up in the truck. So far a parking, I don’t mind moving my car to get my street cleaned up. It’s depressing living in filth and if you like it then we’ll put all the neighborhoods garbage up your house. PPA needs to beat it while the city cleans. Really PPA get a life.

  22. ian January 7, 2016 at 7:12 am #

    Yes bring back the street sweeping! keep gentrifying! keep building! keep making this city better! Stop listening to your “south philly brethren”! they are all mental. they dont want anything to change (get more expensive) so they can bleed the system, live like kings for free, and do nothing in life. these are the same people with the illegal cars parked everywhere, that toss their trash from their front door to the curb because they are too lazy, the ones that come out of the store with a pack of newports, rip off the cellophane, and just toss it on the ground. so when these people come to the meetings and complain about making the neighborhoods better or taxes being raised (they are the only ones with the time to show up because they dont work) IGNORE THEM!! KEEP MAKING PHILLY BETTER!!!!!!! Send these people seaworthy

  23. Karen January 7, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Yes…Pls do so and consider sub-contracting the work to non profits like, Ready,Willing and Able. Has anyone done a study like what council woman Bodie Reynolds suggested last yr? The study would look at high populated areas that do a great job with their litter. E.g. Disney is one but it’s a day trip place so not oranges to oranges. Also, Ireland has very pristine streets … Philly should collaborate with them to better understand how they manage trash. We have a great city but honestly it’s filthy dirty. Another suggestion is to incentivize folks to collect random trash like soda cans are sought out, collected and redeemed for cash. It would help keep the city clean and provide work for those who want & need it.

    • Heidi January 9, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

      Karen, this is seriously one of the more brilliant suggestions I’ve seen on here except you know the sanitation unions would throw a huge tantrum.

  24. Asia January 8, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    For every one compliment Di Cicco got about the street cleaning, he got 10 complaints from residents about having the move their car. He finally gave up and basically said screw it, enjoy your dirty streets. If once a week, you and your neighbors walk out your door and pick up trash in front of your house and, just for the hell of it, in front of the houses next to yours, it would be much cleaner around here. Take ownership.

    • R Young January 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      Yes, he punished us all because of the complaints of a few. He should have had a form letter to send our to people who bitched about having to move their cars.

  25. Ken January 8, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    I agree that street sweeping should be brought back! The amount of trash in the street has been ridiculous since the program stopped. If everyone took just a few minutes of their time to clean up their own block, it would make a huge difference! Since most usually don’t, this is what’s needed.

    Now, if we could just do something about all those weeds that grow out of the sidewalk in the warmer months ……

  26. Fel January 9, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    If we could stop the advertising circulars from getting tossed on every doorstep on almost a daily basis, it would do a lot to reduce trash. These should be illegal. I am at 10th & Mifflin, and I see these all over the street every day. If someone wants to give out circulars, they should be forced to put them through the mail slot so they don’t end up on the street.

    • R Young January 9, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      They’re not the only trash I found outside my house on a daily basis, but they are a major part, and they should be banned.

      Also, the state needs to change the law requiring that every address get a phone book delivered; my appear and go right into the recycling bin (once I’ve stripped off the plastic bag) annually.

  27. R Young January 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    someone i know pointed out that requiring people to move their cars once a week would make IDing abandoned and stolen cars easier. In the last couple of years, I’ve had cars and vans sit on my block for over a year in the same spot. We call 311 and they’ll only send someone out to ticket or tow if they have flat tires or broken window.

    I had a contractor park an junk van in front of my neighbor’s house for over a year. He used it as a storage locker. I was only able to get it towed once the tags and inspection expired.

  28. Mike January 11, 2016 at 7:00 am #

    I totally agree street cleaning should be brought back. I drive all day for a living especially in south Philly and no matter what area of south Philly I’m driving thru, I constantly see trash everywhere unless your fortunate to live around the stadium district where they sweep every day by an outside service. The problem as I see it is a combination of many factors. Mainly they are:
    Some people simply do not know how to properly set out their trash. I’m talking about bags that are not even tied up, recycle bins overflowing, loose cardboard boxes such as pizza boxes, and setting out thrash way in advance of pick up.. Then the sanitation workers don’t give 2 shits about how they put trash in the trucks. most times they “heave” bags from a distance that they fall in streets and splitting open leaving a mess. Also watch how they drag your recycle bin to the truck only to have 10% of the contents fall all over your pavement and street. Recently I was in back of a truck and actually got out of my van and asked the city worker if he was going to pick up the spilled over contents of a recycle bucket. He replied ” we don’t do that” we do the best we can. Now WTF? kind of answer is that? .Typical lazy ass city worker. Plus the circulars, ads, etc. have to be regulated. they should be placed inside one’s mail slot, not thrown on your steps. This city needs to bring back cleaning and I would be willing to pay a “surcharge” only if they make it mandatory for all to participate.

  29. Constance January 12, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Unfortunately it’s against the postal laws for those ads, circulars, etc to be placed in mail boxes/slots.

  30. Brian M January 14, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

    So who are these South Philly brethren that Mr. Squilla mentions??

    South Philly wants our basic city service back! Better yet, how about showing some innovation like updating trashcan and trash truck standards and collaborating with other cities as been mentioned here.

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