Tue, Jan

From the Underbelly of the City

NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL BUDGET ADVOCATES-This is part of a series about various Los Angeles City Departments based on interviews and research by the Budget Advocates in the fall of 2019. 

Sewage? Garbage? Cleaning up homeless encampments? 

These are probably nowhere near the top of your list of favorite things. Which is why the city has a whole department dedicated to taking care of those items for you. 

The Los Angeles Sanitation Department (LASan) has approximately 3,300 authorized positions of which approximately 2,800 are active employees, and an annual all-in revenue budget of over $1 billion. The vast majority of their budget is derived from customer billings and Special Funds (funds the City sets aside for specific purposes that cannot be tapped for General Fund uses) with only a small percent, primarily used for homelessness-related services, coming from the City’s General Fund. 

They also oversee important environmental and infrastructure programs including the City's Watershed Protection program. Some are mandated by the state or federal governments; others are programs developed by LASan to put them on the cutting edge of waste management. 

Customers can find a wealth of how to and other information on the LASan website starting with their Roadshow video which is actually a pretty interesting take on what they do. 


Last year marked the advent of RecycLA, the private-public partnership intended to extend recycling and efficient waste-handling services to Los Angeles’ commercial/industrial sector as well as multi-family homes. 

Most people know the RecycLA roll-out has been less than successful with everyone trying to make a buck resulting in sloppy services and excessive fees. 

Taking another crack at this with their Removing Barriers to Recycling program is a huge step towards achieving the customer-friendly status to which all city departments should aspire. 

The program is an effort to addresses the concerns of both RecycLA customers (multi-unit residents and businesses) and providers, as well as long-term customers, on new and upcoming best practices for waste disposal including green/organics and recycling separation and how to mitigate consumer costs. 


Homelessness is a primary component of the funding LASan receives from the City’s General Fund (albeit only 2% of their overall budget), due to the ever-increasing numbers of people living on the street and the lack of adequate services for the chronically homeless. Despite Measures H and HHH and all the pronouncements by the politicians, current rehousing and support is clearly inadequate. 

With increasing homeless numbers and sufficient supportive housing still years in the future, the City needs to get ahead of the curve and double the number of Clean Streets teams and expand services to encampments including drug-user mitigation (collection of sharps and other hazardous materials), as well as networking with the County on these and future issues related to homelessness and gentrification-driven population migration. 

So. . .when you are down in the dumps, remember the city has a dedicated department working to make sure you don’t have to worry about all the dirty parts of your life.


(If you have an idea or would like to weigh in on the services provided by this department, you can send your suggestions to me at LizAmsden@hotmail.com or submit your suggestion directly to LASan.