Tires and mattresses litter New Orleans’ East End, city processes more than 1,500 illegal dump requests

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Residents of an East New Orleans community have said they’ve been plagued by an illegal dumping ground right in the middle of their neighborhood, and now they’re calling on the city to step in and bring Changes.

Around Wendy Lane and Cindy Place, debris spills onto the streets: tires, mattresses, sofas, laundry baskets. A stone’s throw away are busy townhouses and apartment complexes.

Neighbors tell FOX 8 that illegal dumping on Lake Forest Boulevard has been a problem for years, but when a dump is in the middle of a neighborhood, it erodes their quality of life.

“You will find that this is a non-traditional dump site because there are still people living in this community, children still riding school buses in this community, so you would think it would be discouraged may the landfill be here, may the abandoned buildings be here,” said East New Orleans resident Aeisha Kelly.

Kelly and Mary Smith, a resident who lives in a nearby compound, reached out to the city for answers. Smith submitted a 311 request in May, reporting an illegal dumping in the area.

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“The misuse of property, whether it’s private property or whether we’re on public land. We have to do something about it,” Smith said. “I know people come here and they abuse our land with what they do here, but you can’t tell me there’s nothing we can do to stop that.”

A city spokesperson said the Department of Sanitation currently has 1,519 requests for illegal dumping pending through 311 across the city. In an email response to Kelly, the department said it only recently completed its 2021 backlog and noted that “remediation will only remove debris on the public right-of-way,” referring Kelly to the code enforcement via a property 311 maintenance request.

Long-abandoned apartment buildings lie across the street, with the many apartment buildings now razed becoming dumps.

“How do you think that makes people who live here feel like they live right next door?” asked FOX 8 reporter David Jones.

“How would you feel if you lived in New Orleans most of your life, even if you came back after Katrina, but that’s what you have to come back to?” replied Smith, who walks the neighborhood daily as part of a movement called Prayer Walkers, encouraging other residents to walk in their communities and pray.

“There are apartment complexes here, and there are children,” Smith added. “It’s what they have to see every day when they leave for school or come home.”

The spokesperson went on to add that the Department of Sanitation “began working on the next tranche of citywide landfill applications, 624 applications submitted between January and March 2022.” They added that the administration is optimistic that American Rescue Plan Act federal dollars will be allocated in the near future, allowing the department to contract with outside vendors to help with dumping claims.

Councilman Oliver Thomas, who represents New Orleans East, said the city needs to better enforce the laws already in place.

“We need to let people know: you can’t do whatever you want in this town, man. You can’t disrespect us like that,” Thomas said. “If I let you get away with the little things, what do I do when you get to the big stuff? And there’s a feeling in this city that people can do what they want, when they want, how they want, with whom they want. We have to send a message that you can’t.

Thomas said he would like to see Code Enforcement step up and start bringing some of the landlords who neglect their properties to justice.

“If they want to be as aggressive as they are and disrespect us, we have to be damn as aggressive as possible behind the charter and behind the law for them to pay the price,” Thomas added.

Regarding the abandoned apartment buildings at 6800 and 6801 Cindy Place, the spokesperson confirms that judgments were entered and paid against the owners in 2018, but since August 2021 the vacant buildings have changed ownership.

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