Citrus Heights Beautification Crew Combats Blight
Left to right: Leon Yang and James Holm, members of the Citrus Heights Beautification Crew with Citrus Heights Mayor Tim Schaefer and Congressman Ami Bera (D-6th District). Photo courtesy of City of Citrus Heights
Leon Yang of the Citrus Heights Beautification Crew. Photo courtesy of City of Citrus Heights
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The City of Citrus Heights Beautification Crew program is continuing to pro-actively combat blight in the city. They’ve cleaned up some 2.2 tons of trash, debris, and abandoned shopping carts from city streets and public areas since early January.
The two-person crew is another element in the city’s plans to “beautify the community and achieve a new level of community cleanliness and pride,” said Meghan Huber, the city’s Economic Development & Community Engagement Director.
Huber responded to a variety of questions concerning the general operations and objectives of the Citrus Heights Beautification Crew which is being led by the city’s general services department. The crew is supervised by Armando Velasquez, its construction maintenance inspector.
The crew operates Monday through Friday and conducts both proactive sweeps and quick responses to urgent needs. Specific duties include maintaining public areas, removing abandoned carts and debris, cleaning up homeless camps and illegal dumps, removing trash and litter, cleaning up graffiti, and consistent weed abatement.
One-time federal American Rescue Plan Act funding provided Citrus Heights an opportunity to both increase local control and advance community image goals by deploying resources such as the Beautification Crew directly into the community to address blight. Funding for the project was secured by Congressman Ami Bera (D-6th District.)
With these federal funds, a vibrant 16-foot stake-bed truck with a lift gate and bright orange signage can be seen making its regular rounds throughout the city.
Like other communities, the city of Citrus Heights, which encompasses over 14.2 square miles, has experienced increased levels of visible blight attributed mainly to illegal dumping, negligent littering, inattentive property owners, and transient activity.
Left unchecked, these challenges adversely affect Citrus Heights businesses and its residents, threatening the economic vitality of the city and the quality of life for its residents, the city contends.
In April, the City will begin regularly releasing statistics on the total amount of trash which continues to be collected, Huber said.
“In general, most of the Beautification Crew’s efforts are focused on arterials, which tend to see a majority of the accumulated trash and illegal dumping,” Huber said.
“High frequency traffic areas of Greenback Lane and Indian River Drive, and Greenback Lane near Patterson Lane have been focused by the crew,” she said.
“On average, since January 1st, the crew has handled approximately 12 calls per workday,” she said.
“The crew also responds to other non-blight related urgencies as needed, such as emergency storm response and responding to accidents in the public right of way.”
Those service calls are captured and documented separately, and not included in the 12 calls per day average.
The members of the Beautification Crew and the city Code Enforcement Department regularly coordinate their efforts.
“While the city Beautification Crew is tasked with proactive cleanup, maintenance and beautification of public areas and right-of-ways, city Code Enforcement works with private property owners to maintain standards, and then correct issues as needed,” Huber said.
The average amount of time between when a call for service is requested and when the Beautification Crew can get the job done is relatively quick, Huber explained.
“The response time varies depending on location, type of call, and level of priority,” she said. “In general, the team’s response is usually less than 30 minutes,” she added.
“The crew is incredibly responsive and efficient and has been known to sometimes handle a call directly from the field before a report for service is even transmitted,” she said.
While photos are helpful to be included with a call for service, they aren’t required, Huber said. “The most important information to accurately provide is the address or location and type of issue involved.
The Beautification Crew also handles individual homeless encampments throughout the city with respect given for people’s belongings, she said.
“The crew, along with support from our partners in the Citrus Heights Police Department work together to assist our unhoused population in helping them decrease their footprint and relieve their burden of non-essential belongings,” she said.
“Our staff assesses the encampments to determine if they are abandoned or active, and then provides resources for the individuals to dispose of their unwanted materials,” she said.
“We also communicate (with them) to help identify personal belongings they may be wanting to retain,” she said.
Huber said funding for the Citrus Heights Beautification Crew will expire at the end of the city’s 2025-26 fiscal year. While the program is fully funded through then, city staff will bring program results, a current needs assessment and potential recommendations to the city council as the end of the term is approached to see if the program can then be successfully continued, she said.
The public can submit requests for service to its General Services Department at (916) 727-4770, emailing ServiceRequestGSD@Citrusheights.net, or utilize the City’s SeeClickFix feature found on the city website. Requests for service can also be made by text to: 844.92.Hello.