The Siuslaw news. (Florence, Lane County, Or.) 1960-current, September 18, 2021, SATURDAY EDITION, Page 5, Image 5

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TRACES from page 1A
The city has been in
contact with Block for
multiple months. Many
of those interactions are
recorded on his Facebook
page, “Leaven No Trace.”
Ultimately, Florence Police
Department issued several
citations against Block on
Sept. 11.
According to Block, his
goal is to “implement pro-
grams and projects so the
city itself can handle the
trash problem. My hope,
my goal is that my organi-
zation is no longer needed
one day.”
The conflict is not
in the goal of clearing
trash, but in the dispos-
al. In fact, the city has an
Adopt-A-Street program
specifically to help peo-
ple beautify streets, and a
companion one for area
parks. Through the pro-
gram, people are able to
register with the city, select
a stretch of roadway, and
commit to cleaning it a
handful of times through-
out the year.
Public Works Director
Mike Miller said some
people go above and be-
yond, like Mike and Pat
Allen, who clear Rhodo-
dendron Drive each week.
“They do a great job.
… I think we only require
three or four times a year
to actually go out and pick
up litter on the right away,”
he said. “This couple, they
actually go out there ev-
ery weekend, picking up
waste, which they collect
and take home, because it’s
not a whole lot in a month’s
In a month, it might
make up 20 to 30 pounds
of material.
“They bring it home and
give us a call to come out.
Then we pick up the gar-
bage and dispose appropri-
ately,” Miller said.
Because the program
is through the city, Pub-
lic Works is able to pro-
vide the training, safety
equipment, trash grabbers,
gloves and containers for
different kinds of materi-
“We want our volunteers
to be safe, too,” Miller said.
In addition, the city can
plan for the disposal of the
waste. As Block’s actions
have gone on, city staff
have had to remove Leaven
No Trace’s bags of garbage
while they are on the clock,
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Bags left behind by Leaven No Trace get a spray
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often pulling workers from viously; we work as a team
as a city, but also all gov-
other jobs.
When the city plans ernmental agencies that
events to clean up areas, manage public rights of
“We want to make sure that way and public lands.”
People can volunteer
the dumpsters are avail-
able,” Miller said. “The in many capacities, and
material is packaged, put sometimes come together
in the dumpster, and then for bigger events specifi-
taken away appropriately cally to beautify, clean up
to a landfill. Whether that’s or in other ways benefit
the Lane County Trans- the area.
“We have a lot of groups
fer Station or, more likely,
going directly over to the that come together for the
Short Mountain Landfill Power of Florence, and we
so it’s not handled multiple work with those to be the
most efficient and effective
The city, as well as other with our resources,” Mess-
entities, relies on volun- mer said.
That day of service fea-
teers to do much of this
tures people from across
Erin the community, including
Reynolds said, “We have a Boy and Girl Scouts, Flor-
lot of awesome volunteers, ence Garden Club, elemen-
in addition to our amazing tary students and dozens
Public Works staff. And it’s of groups, uniting for a day
not just Public Works, ob- of volunteering.
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“We partner with them,”
Miller said. “Whether it’s
vegetation removal, Scotch
broom or cleaning up dif-
ferent projects, we bring
additional resources and
even the official crews.”
Other city projects have
come out of people’s indi-
vidual or collective efforts,
including the Singing Pines
Dog Park, which has re-
cently had improvements
thanks to community vol-
unteers and fundraising.
For Messmer, “We do
rely a lot on our volunteers
in every aspect of the city.
We have our committees,
Commander John Pitcher
has volunteers at the police
department, Public Works
has a lot of volunteers, the
Florence Events Center
wouldn’t be able to oper-
ate without volunteers. So
we’re always open to peo-
ple volunteering and help-
She emphasized, howev-
er, that the city has limited
resources for its city staff
and must follow permit-
ting procedures.
Block feels like the city is
not doing enough.
“As far as I’ve seen in the
past six years, the main is-
sue is the government not
doing their job,” he said.
“They have decided it is
too much work, it is too
stressful or whatever it
might be. They’ve decided
that is no longer a priority
to them to keep the trash
cleaned up.”
He also said that the
city “won’t even appreciate
someone that comes in and
wants to do the cleanup
without them covering the
entire project. I only asked
them to dispose of the
trash and allow me to do
my awareness program.”
Some efforts have been
made from both the city
side and the Leaven No
Trace to work together, but
that changed last Saturday.
“Block was cited, and
that was at my direction,”
said Pitcher. “He stacked
several bags in three or
four different locations
on the sidewalks, partial-
ly blocking the sidewalks,
and tied them up to light
posts and stop signs. We
had to get a hold of Public
Works to come out and get
The citations occurred
after multiple interactions
with Code Enforcement
Officer Dan Frazier and
the Florence Police, and
after the city offered sever-
al solutions, including the
use of dumpsters or large,
durable bags.
Leaven No Trace, how-
ever, relies on the message
of the stacked bags.
“I do put them in a posi-
tion where people can see
them,” Block said. “And
then I put my little emo-
ji on it. So it’ll get people
to feel when they see the
emoji the sad, mad, crazy
After he was cited, Block
posted to social media: “Af-
ter putting 10 more bags of
trash by Safeway on 101
again this morning, I was
tracked down by Florence
PD and given four charges
of Offensive Littering, Dis-
orderly Conduct ll and
Criminal Mischief lll and
I was told if I continue to
clean up the community I
will go to jail! (sic)”
The next steps, accord-
ing to Pitcher, involve a
court date through Flor-
ence Municipal Court.
“If he continues to do
other things, those will
also be referred to the
prosecutor as well, and
we’ll investigate those,” he
continued. “We’ll then de-
termine if there are more
crimes or are higher lev-
els of crimes. But for now,
with the ones that we’ve
issued, they’ll go to munic-
ipal court, and he’ll have to
face those charges.”
This is not the first time
Block has been tried.
“I’ve actually been cited
throughout the years,” he
said. “Coos County gave
me seven tickets for offen-
sive littering and disorder-
ly conduct. I took them all
to trial.”
He said he won some of
the cases and lost some of
Florence Police charged
Block with littering for
placing the bags; for crim-
inal mischief for the work
that it took for Public
Works to have to come
out and cut the bags off
the posts and signs, and
then dispose of them; and
for disorderly conduct for
blocking the sidewalks.
“We don’t know what’s
in those bags,” Pitcher
said. “People could go up
and get cut or punctured
by going near them. We
have pedestrians and kids
out there playing, walking
on the sidewalks. We just
can’t allow that. It’s a safety
It’s also an issue of
maintaining access.
“It’s just really unsafe
conditions,” Pitcher added.
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