Mayor addresses city street cleaning, COVID-19 response, illegal racing during press briefing

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press briefing on Oct. 1 to update the media on a variety of topics, including Operation Clean Sweep, the city’s COVID-19 response, and illegal street racing.

Bottoms said she was already seeing improvements to city roadways after the recent launch of Operation Clean Sweep, phase two of Fix-It Atlanta. Services under Operation Clean Sweep include cleaning up illegal dump sites and street litter, maintaining right-of-way areas, removing illegal signs, improving residential, and bulk trash pick-up..

City teams have been deployed to Lawton Street, Ashby Grove and Dargan Place on the Westside and to clean up litter and trim vegetation,  as well as a bulk removal and cleaning at an illegal dumping site near Dargan Place. Crews have also been deployed to Northwest Atlanta to clean and trim back overgrowth on Collier Drive and Linkwood Road.

City teams have also cleared out 188 tons of debris from 343 illegal dump sites around the city, de-littered and mowed more than 11 miles of right-of-way at 103 locations, completed more than 1950 residential bulk collections, accounting for 440 tons of waste, and removed more than 550 illegal signs.

Atlanta residents and businesses are encouraged to partner with the City of Atlanta to report issues and request services by contacting the City by dialing 311 or by visiting

Bottoms said she was aware of the complaints about homeless encampments under bridges and in other areas and the city has been sending out teams to assess situations and direct people to supportive housing when and where it’s appropriate. She said the city had been advised not to clean up or disrupt encampments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor said she believed that the citywide mask requirement, which saw her at odds with Gov. Brian Kemp, had slowed the spread of COVID-19 in the city and state.

While Atlanta Public School students might have the opportunity to return to class starting Oct. 26, Bottoms said the city’s small learning pod program at local recreation centers had made a huge difference to education-deprived children.

The learning pod program is available at 16 recreation centers around the city from 7:30 am.. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday for students who cannot connect to the internet at home, have working parents, or need more supervision. APS is providing breakfast and lunch to the students in the socially-distanced pods. Parents can inquire about availability by calling (404) 546-6813.

Although crime is down by 20 percent from this time last year, Bottoms said their had been an increase in homicide and violent crime. Illegal street racing has been an issue since the pandemic emptied roadways and interstates. She praised the Atlanta Police Department for its efforts in curbing the activity.

“Street racing is reckless and shouldn’t be happening in our city,” the mayor said. “APD is using technology to read license plats and officers have stepped up the response to street racing activity. I urge the public to continue to call 911.”

Another public safety issue that dominated the news over the summer was the so-called “water boys,” children selling bottled water at intersections and off-ramps, Interim Chief Rodney Bryant said officers had been talking to the “water boys” about other opportunities and continued to encourage the public not to buy water. He said a young man selling water earlier this week had sustained minor injures when a car rolled over his foot in Midtown.

Bottoms also encouraged residents to register to vote before the Oct. 5 deadline and reminded residents to complete the 2020 Census this month. She said a “census bus” was visiting neighborhoods encouraging completion of the survey and even had iPads available so people could answer the census on the spot.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.