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N4T Investigators: Trash build up has several people frustrated, wanting answers

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The News 4 Tucson investigators have received multiple concerns from people, mainly living on Tucson’s Southside, about garbage littering the streets and little seeming to be done about it. 

News 4 Tucson Investigators spoke with Eric Ballesteros, who lives on the southside, he said he’s having to clean up trash outside his home at least once a week. 

He said he would take a grocery bag or two and start cleaning up. He said oftentimes, he would fill up the bags until they’re full. 

“I wish all the neighbors would be keeping up their trash you know, not throwing it out in the streets,” Ballesteros said. 

And it’s not just some uncaring neighbors he can talk trash about, but litterers too. 

“I hate it when they come out and just drive around and throw their stuff out,” Ballesteros said. 

He believes the amount of garbage build up warrants Tucson Environmental Services stepping up its collections. And he can’t help but notice things don’t look so bad North of I-10. 

“They [Environmental Services] come once a week and recycle twice a week, that’s hurting the community. You go to the Northside and it’s a little bit cleaner than the South,” Ballesteros said. 

News 4 Tucson took Ballesteros’ concerns directly to Environmental Services and its Deputy Director Pat Tapia, who said it’s not a problem just on the southside. 

“It’s actually not just in the South we see that citywide,” Tapia said. 

A citywide problem that Tapia says isn’t anything new. 

“I think it’s just being noticed more now,” he said. 

According to Tapia, Environmental Services received more than 2,800 work orders related to illegal dumping in 2019, so far in 2020 he said they have received just over 2,200 work orders. 

“Even this year 2020, which has been a tough year for everybody, it’s averaging about the same,” Tapia explained. 

But a consistent problem is still a problem. Tapia said the best option for a concerned home owner like Ballesteros is to pick up the phone and report it to them. 

“I appreciate him taking initiative to go out there and clean up some of the area there’s probably like him 100’s of others in the City that do the same thing that we probably don’t hear about best thing to do is notify us and let us know so we can send somebody out to do a visual inspection,” Tapia said. 

But if by chance someone throws litter on your property, Tapia said it then becomes your responsibility to dispose of it. 

As Tapia said 2020 has been a crazy year but he said there hasn’t been any major impacts to Environmental Services. 

“They have continued since day one coming in and going to work every day,” Tapia explained. 

Their work is certainly cut out for them but there is a simple step Tapia said everyone can do to help keep a cleaner neighborhood for everyone. 

“If residents could bag and tie their trash, cause that is part of that flying debris that does end up around the streets even if it isn’t illegal dumping is loose debris,” Tapia said. 

For Eric Ballesteros that would mean less work and a cleaner place to call home, he only hopes people will listen. 

“Don’t be littering the streets, that’s why there’s trash cans,” Ballesteros said. 

If you’re still set on littering it could cost you. The Tucson Police Department said you could face fines up to $500. 

If you have a story idea you would like us to look into email our investigators at or call our tip line at 955-4444. 

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Chorus Nylander

Chorus Nylander is the Chief Investigative Reporter for News 4 Tucson. He is focused on giving the voiceless a voice and holding the powerful accountable.

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