By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Toss litter and get caught -- and you can expect a ticket.
The Kern Council of Governments has allocated funding to partner with the Kern County Sheriff's Department to have deputies dedicate some time to catching those who litter in the act, city solid waste superintendent Sal Moretti said Tuesday.
- City OKs plan to hire homeless to clean up litter
- Freeway litter cleanup plan inches closer
- Teach, coach kids not to litter
- KernCOG plan to tackle litter taking form
- Government groups putting roadside trash in their sights
- LOUIS GILL: Freeway cleanup opportunity means a lot to homeless crew
- Council committee advocates full-court press on highway trash
Moretti talked about litter reduction efforts on "First Look with Scott Cox."
Simulcast host Scott Cox said of litter: "There's no excuse for it to exist in the known universe."
Moretti said he was glad to see Cox called litter a pet peeve in a feature in Bakersfield Life.
"That's my pet peeve too. It's more than a pet peeve. It's an obsession," Moretti said.
But there's hope -- both in the tickets that can be handed out to people caught in the act, and in the new crews of people picking up trash along the highways.
With a ticket, Moretti said, those who trash Kern will "start thinking about it a little more."
Moretti also said Caltrans is supporting the crews from the Bakersfield Homeless Center who are picking up litter on the freeways. Twenty-six Homeless Center clients are working part-time, minimum wage jobs picking up trash.
"They work hard. They have a great story to tell. This is a stepping stone for them," Moretti said. The workers build their resumes and their ability to secure housing, and the public benefits from less trash.
Two crews are picking up litter daily, and a third one is about to start. There's also a sheriff's work crew.
The private sector can help too, both by cleaning up areas or sponsoring a mile for clean-up for $6,700 a year.
Despite all the efforts, there's another piece -- prevention through education.
"There is still a lot more work to be done," Moretti said. If litter disappears, people could move on to pulling weeds and improving landscaping.
Scott expressed optimism about spreading the word.
"You are putting shame on people who may not have thought about it before," Moretti told Cox, adding, "Some in the community need to learn that pride."
To get involved, call 326-3539 or 326-3136.