LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Littering is a constant issue in Lake Charles and across Southwest Louisiana. Wednesday night the city council passed updates to an ordinance for littering, which would increase penalties for litterbugs across the city.
As a result, Lake Charles Police are now able to write tickets for those who are caught littering, and that violation will be addressed in court.
“No one likes to see a penalty increase or fine increase, but quite frankly, if they’re not getting a wake up call for what it currently is, then perhaps we do need to stiffen those fines," Mayor Nic Hunter said.
A first offense would cost someone $200, up from the old fine of $100. A second offense? $300. For a third offense, the fine would be $500 along with a possible suspended license.
City court can also require someone to pick up litter for community service hours.
“Should an officer witness someone littering, for instance, throwing some garbage out of their window while driving down the road, those officers can stop them at that point, issue them a citation," Lake Charles Police Chief Shawn Caldwell said. “Officers still have the discretion of whether or not they want to warn someone or if they want to actually issue them a ticket. it’s going to depend on the interaction or the severity of the littering.”
These stricter rules aren’t only for individuals, businesses will also be held accountable for their properties and parking lots.
“Yes, as a business owner, perhaps you can’t control if a customer throws something in your parking lot, you can control how long you let it stay there," Hunter said.
Some Lake Charles residents believe these increased fines are a good idea.
“I think it’s a good idea as far as it goes, how effective it’ll be, I don’t know. We all have a responsibility to keep our community clean,” Mike Wells said.
“People don’t like to see trash everywhere, you know, it makes a business look bad. I constantly, every hour, we check our parking lot to make sure it’s clean and our customers appreciate it," Juan Alvarado, Tio Juan’s owner, said.
These penalties are set to go into effect next week, upon the signing of the ordinance.