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Beaches see big increase in trash over busy weekend

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 18, 2020

Some beach cities in San Luis Obispo County are reporting a big increase in trash from visitors over the weekend.

City of Pismo Beach officials say it’s a combination of travelers flooding to the beach and restaurants only offering take-out.

As a result, the city says its trash situation this past weekend looked similar to what they see over the Fourth of July holiday.

"This weekend we saw an absolute abuse of our community," said Jorge Garcia, City of Pismo Beach Management Services Director.

Garcia says there are usually six trash cans on the beach, but this weekend they had 22 bins on the sand and ordered another 15.

Picking up trash along the beach is usually a job for one or two people, but now that task is requiring close to 10.

"We've put out every trash can that the city owns, we've purchased more trash cans. On Sunday alone, we had nine employees working around the clock and they still couldn't catch up with all the trash," Garcia said.

Pismo Beach wasn't the only city in SLO County seeing the uptick in visitors and trash.

The City of Morro Bay was dealing with a similar issue this past weekend, especially with restaurants only serving take-out.

"Because everything is take-out it only takes a family of four to fill up an entire trash can and our staff are coming around and emptying them but not fast enough," said Scott Collins, Morro Bay City Manager.

As visitors continue to flock to local beaches, cities say they're increasing enforcement and looking at all options ahead of this Memorial Day weekend.

"We're going to do more signage, more trash cans, more porta-potties, more wash stations, increase the number of services per week, just to try and keep up," Collins said.

"If we don't see dramatic change, the city may have to take drastic measures in order to close the beach," Garcia said.

He says the increased trash pickup is costing the City of Pismo Beach a lot of money and will lead to reductions in other public works divisions for now, meaning some maintenance projects could take a bit longer.

The City of Pismo Beach plans to have extra enforcement and extra staff out for Memorial Day weekend and the city council is continuing to discuss all options if there aren't improvements at the beaches.