NEW ORLEANS -- Litterbugs and people who don't follow city sanitation rules may soon find themselves in court with fines.
A bill allowing the City Council to get tough on dumping trash already passed the full House and is now headed to the Senate floor.
In the 7th Ward, neighbors who take pride in their homes and lawns are sick and tired of trash-filled properties.
"That vacant house, it's used for a outdoor toilet, all day and all night. We could be sitting here right now and they would go right there on the front of that house. You know how awful that is," said an elderly resident of the 7th Ward who did not want to be identified.
"I've been calling on that about a month and within that month it done increase and increase. By time I turn the corner, it got some more trash on it," Aaron Toregano said about the empty lot that is used as a dumping ground across the street from his home in the 7th Ward.
So the city, along with some citizens and NOPD officers, wants a better way to enforce litter and sanitation laws.
Tuesday in Baton Rouge, a Senate judiciary committee heard arguments on a bill that would allow the city to write tickets, like they do with parking tickets, on quality of life problems. Those include litter in business parking lots, unfenced dumpsters, abandoned vehicles on lots among others.
No one from City Hall was available to talk to us, but in an e-mail message a city spokesman said, if passed, the City Council could then set fines, hearings within 15 days and an appeals process. They believe this could streamline enforcement and possibly make people think twice before dumping.
The city says this bill does not affect the many garbage collection rules already in place that people must follow.
For instance, store-bought garbage cans are technically against the law because they're not the official 96 gallon roll carts.
But sanitation collectors on garbage trucks in this neighborhood say whether it's the right or wrong can, or if it's just in bags, they still pick it up.
"We'll still collect it. We'll do anything it take to greater New Orleans and provide for the citizens of planet earth. Yep. We are sanitation engineers, whatever is below must be above. We send it back to the cosmic and make it be pure," said Makonnen Guidry, a sanitation engineer.
A spokesman for the city issued this statement:
"The first step is passage of HB 940. If passed, the city will then determine what ordinances need to be amended and/or adopted or what existing ordinances will be utilized."