Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is dispatching a handful of trash inspectors on midnight forays to stop illegal dumping as part of his renewed campaign to clean up Baltimore.
In the fifth week of his effort to restore a little shine to the city's dirty streets, Mr. Schmoke decided to reorganize the Bureau of Solid Waste to create a night patrol.
Two or three inspectors will be sent out between midnight and 7 a.m. to crack down on offenders who toss everything from tires to discarded sofas into alleys and vacant lots.
"We want to catch some of these people involved in dumping," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday at his weekly news briefing. "We intend not only to fine them and prosecute them, but if they have operating licenses for businesses, we want to revoke them. We want to do everything we possibly can to make it economically disadvantageous for them to dump their trash."
The new night shift is part of a revamped garbage collection system that Mr. Schmoke ordered after he toured neighborhoods littered with trash and reached the unhappy conclusion that Charm City looked filthy. The mayor also put the city's 36 sanitation supervisors on 60-day notice to step up the pace in issuing citations.
"The vast majority of our citizens are really responding well," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday, adding that the city issued more than 1,100 enforcement notices between Aug. 29 and Sept. 10 to residents and landlords who dump trash.
"But obviously we're not getting everyone involved," he continued with a sigh. "You can see it as you drive around. There are some people who still aren't with the program."
Kenneth Strong, acting head of the Bureau of Solid Waste, devised a three-prong plan to buff up Baltimore. The first part is the new emphasis on enforcement, targeting residents who litter and landlords who leave the belongings of evicted tenants on the sidewalk. If offenders fail to comply with a warning notice, they face a $25 fine.
The second part is keeping in close contact with community organizations. And the third is sending out trucks to pick up old mattresses, furniture and other bulk items on specific days instead of simply responding when called.
Yesterday, Mr. Strong also announced an all-day cleanup in 10 neighborhoods across the city tomorrow. In a gesture reminiscent of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who launched a highly publicized "Assault on Trash" while mayor in 1985, Mr. Schmoke donned a work cap with the cleanup logo and said he hopes to see a cleaner city.
More than 1,000 volunteers have been enlisted to scour graffiti off walls, sweep out alleys and plant flowers in Pen Lucy, Pimlico, Edmondson, Franklin Square, Walbrook, Brooklyn, Coldstream-Montebello, Oliver, Fells Point and Reservoir Hill.
The city is dispatching cleaning equipment and 40 crews from the Public Works, Housing and Parks departments to help with the Neighborhood United cleanup.