State and local officials gathered in Richmond on Wednesday to kick off a $1.1 billion effort to beautify and clean up garbage in communities across the state.
The three-year effort is expected to generate as many as 11,000 jobs, according to state officials, including for formerly homeless and incarcerated people, military veterans, students and local artists.
While Caltrans collected some 270,000 cubic yards of trash last year from the state’s infrastructure system, state officials argue the Clean California program will support the removal of an additional 1.2 million cubic yards per year.
“This is an unprecedented effort to acknowledge what all of us recognize as we drive around this state: it’s too damn dirty,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a briefing Wednesday at a Caltrans cleanup site.
“We see what you see. It’s unacceptable, we could do more, we have to do better and now we have the resources to make all of that happen.”Gov. Gavin Newsom
Newsom noted that a handful of years ago, Caltrans’ budget for litter abatement was just $80 million.
“Time to clean up the state,” he said. “Time to be a little bit more accountable. Time to use our tax dollars a little more appropriately.”
As part of the program, Caltrans will award $296 million to local governments, tribes and transit agencies to fund more than 100 projects each year that make aesthetic improvements to infrastructure and public spaces, particularly in the state’s underserved areas.
The program is also part of the state’s effort to ingratiate homeless residents back into the workforce while expanding state programs that convert hotels and motels into housing units to help people get back on their feet.
“Time to clean up the streets in the state of California,” Newsom said. “We see what you see. It’s unacceptable, we could do more, we have to do better and now we have the resources to make all of that happen.”