L AFAYETTE — Litterbugs beware.
The City-Parish Council on Tuesday approved a package of new anti-littering measures, including more robust laws and a new position to coordinate enforcement.
The changes are a key part of Project Front Yard, a wide-ranging beautification initiative launched this year that brings together local government, community groups and businesses.
“We’ve got litter everywhere. Why can’t we do something about it?” said Lafayette businessman Greg Manuel, who has been active in the effort. “It’s been bothering me for some time, and I’m really glad this has some momentum.”
The measures approved by the council Tuesday add a new local traffic violation for throwing trash from a vehicle.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the change will allow litter violations to be handled as easily as a speeding ticket rather than having to work through the normal court system.
“I think you would see more of those violations cited,” he said.
The council on Tuesday also reworked a 2006 law that gives residents who witness littering the ability to initiate enforcement by filing a complaint with the license plate number of a suspected litterer, a general description of what they saw, and the time, date and place of the littering.
The 2006 law gave jurisdiction over the civil complaints to parish constables and justices of the peace.
But city-parish government has had a difficult time finding many of those officials willing to take on the work, and there has been sparse enforcement under 2006 law.
The change approved Tuesday allows those citizen complaints to be handled not just by constables and justices of the peace but also in city court and state district court.
Expanding the venues for the littering violations should make it easier to move the cases to any court where prosecutors and judges have the time and inclination to take on the issue, said City-Parish Chief Development Officer Kevin Blanchard.
He said there have been discussions of special “litter court” days to handle the violations.
Fines for the littering violations are set at $75 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
“The only problem I have with this is that the fines are not high enough,” said City-Parish Councilman Don Bertrand.
A key part of the anti-littering package approved Tuesday is the creation of a new city-parish position to oversee littering enforcement, coordinate community clean-up projects and do community outreach.
The Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and area business leaders have pledged up to $50,000 a year for three years to fund the position.
Blanchard said city-parish government will immediately begin seeking a candidate for the new job.