Sunday, April 7, 2013

Central Arroyo Degraded and Polluted - City of Pasadena Fails to Take Action

It has been several months since I first met with Pasadena's Director of Public Works Siobhan Foster, Parks and Natural Resources Administrator Charles Peretz and Parks Superintendent Ana Bailey to discuss the plastic pollution and degradation of the Central Arroyo Seco.

Following our meeting on November 27 of last year, I toured the Arroyo with Parks Superintendent Bailey and showed her firsthand the plastic zip ties which are constantly left as litter along the roads and trails after Rose Bowl events.  Superintendent Bailey agreed that this pollution was unacceptable.

In addition, last November Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck responded to my Trash-a-Dena blog series by saying that the City would do more to improve the area.

Given the promises of these City officials to address these concerns, you can imagine my disappointment and frustration when this morning, while running through the Central Arroyo, this is what I found:


Good intentions do not build a great city.  Historic Pasadena and the beautiful Arroyo Seco deserve better.


  1. What are they used for, Tim? Who dropped them?

  2. They are used to erect temporary gates and fences for Rose Bowl events, and seem always to be subsequently clipped and left as plastic pollution on the ground. You can see one is still tied to the gate in the picture above.

    I assume they are left as litter by either city or RBOC workers.

  3. That's a LOT of zip ties Tim. I walked by several 'touristy' public areas in Pasadena, like Lake, Del Mar, and they too have quite a bit of trash on the sidewalk, especially parking lots. Who cleans the public areas? The city street sweepers??? Can we do something about it? I feel it would be nice if citizens participate by keeping their blocks clean.
    I see the same problem in my country (Philippines). Trash in public place, no one cleans them (or the city was supposed to)--all comes down to tragedy of the commons.
    What do you think about a no trash law?
    Countries like Singapore have them, extended as far as banning chewing gum! And, their streets, super clean.

  4. Oshin,

    Ultimately the only solution is to phase-out all single-use plastics. These items (usually food packaging) are the most common source of plastic pollution. They are used for a matter or seconds, minutes or days, and yet they last forever.

    There are already better ways to do things. We can use truly reusable and recyclable materials such as glass, make pulp and paper products sustainably and even grow a type of mushroom packaging which is completely biodegradable.