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Merced Gets Serious About Litter Removal With New Effort



Newsom trash pickup
Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, picks up trash with other volunteers alongside the Long Beach Freeway on Aug. 5, 2021. (Shutterstock)
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Merced is joining the ranks of California cities attacking litter and other discarded items with an organized campaign.

“We know that similar programs have successfully helped cities and counties across the state keep neighborhoods and roadsides litter-free.”Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto

The city announced Monday morning that it is teaming with the Restore Merced nonprofit to clean up address litter “hot spot” areas.

“Litter is preventable, and cleanup efforts are labor-intensive,” said City of Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto in a news release. “The city spends more than $100,000 annually on routine alley and city right of way cleanups, which does not include the ballooning costs affiliated with litter removal.

“We all impact the environment and cause damage that will become increasingly difficult to mitigate. However, we know that similar programs have successfully helped cities and counties across the state keep neighborhoods and roadsides litter-free.”

State Has $300 Million for Clean-up Grants

Merced’s new program comes on the heels of the state’s $1.1 billion initiative to clean areas near highways, roads, and other public spaces — an effort that Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised to expand next year to address homeless encampments.

The Clean California plan is a partnership with cities and counties, which are receiving one-third of the money, about $300 million, in grants. Newsom said last week that his January budget proposal would include at least $100 million in additional grants for community-based projects to remove garbage and beautify public spaces.

Restore Merced has a two-year contract with the city. The nonprofit will work to improve the community’s appearance at sites bordering Caltrans and railroad properties, downtown, perimeter streets at parks, sports complexes, alleys, and other non-privately owned or city-maintained areas.

“This is about affirming dignity,” said Matt St Pierre, executive director and co-founder of Restore Merced. “Our organization strives to provide economic stability and community for individuals with barriers to employment.

“This project will provide work experience to more than 20 individuals. As a result, we expect to see exponentially more neighbors transformed through the gift of meaningful work while providing a service to our community during the coming months.”

Fresno Removes 45 Tons of Trash in 2021

The city of Fresno offers evidence of the effectiveness of a community drive to clean up litter and debris. So far this year, the Beautify Fresno effort has collected nearly 45 tons of trash and planted 300 trees with the help of 8,478 volunteers.

Merced Clean-up Efforts Info

Merced groups wanting to host a neighborhood or community clean-up can post their event on and coordinate services through the Public Works Department.

Information about Merced’s bulky item drop-off site is available at this link.

Information about Restore Merced is at this link.


Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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