LIVERMORE -- One person, one piece of trash per day; that's all Livermore Mayor John Marchand is asking.
That's the message behind the mayor's latest campaign, Graffiti and Litter Abatement Daily, or GLAD, an idea that came to him one day while taking his "half Maltese, half Ewok" dog, Gatsby, for a walk. On one half-mile stroll, he filled a whole kitchen garbage bag with refuse.
"If I see someone's dropped a soda cup 5 feet from a trash can, I'll help them get it that last 5 feet," Marchand said. "If the mayor can be out there picking up trash, anybody can."
Marchand has worked on the numbers, and he's confident dog walkers could be the key.
According to Marchand, there are more than 4,400 registered dogs and 300 miles of streets in Livermore. So if everybody walked their dogs 1 mile, and picked up one piece of trash along the way, the civilian litter corps would cover every mile of city roads 10 times a day. The result, he said, would be a big, cleaner difference.
"If people see a clean street, they're less inclined to litter," he said. "It shows people care. ... These are little things that anybody can do, and it makes a positive difference in the community."
Livermore, like many cities, relies on a combination of volunteers and public works staff for graffiti and litter abatement. Besides an anti-graffiti hotline, the city has a smartphone app to anonymously report tagging, and has reported dramatic reductions in graffiti on downtown utility boxes after having them painted by local artists or coated with a special film.
But whether its garbage on the sidewalk, a light pole defaced by wannabe street artists, or gang members leaving a calling card, Marchand rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. Lugging his trusty anti-graffiti kit -- a mop bucket full of scrub brushes, paper towels, rags and a special cleaner -- Marchand sprays and buffs the offending tags until the urban canvasses are good as new.
This Stuff Works, the company that manufactures the cleaner and graffiti-resistant coating, recently moved to Hayward after more than 15 years in Livermore. Company president and owner Drew Lindner has also founded the nonprofit Stop Urban Blight to help cities plan ways to fight the problem. With budget shortfalls causing many cities, like San Jose, to outsource or cut litter and anti-graffiti programs, the most effective approach, Lindner said, is a proactive one engaging volunteers and the community-at-large.
"If you don't have the mayor or city council behind it, it's not going anywhere," Lindner said. "It's like a weed in your garden. If you don't take care of it right away, it's going to spread and become a major problem."
Marchand hopes his example will empower others to step up to the challenge.
"Everybody talks about how 'they' ought to clean up the streets," Marchand said. "All of us are 'they.' It's up to all of us."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
To report a graffiti incident anywhere in the Bay Area, visit www.stopub.org. To report graffiti in Livermore call the hotline at 925-960-8060, send a maintenance request form at http://bit.ly/GSjLor or download the city's mobile app from iTunes or Google Play.