NewsHillsborough County


Tampa is trashy again! That’s a good thing according to the 'Clean Team'

The Clean Team says litter, graffiti are surging
Posted at 5:14 AM, May 22, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — The “Clean Team,” part of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, is seeing a huge surge in trash and graffiti as the city continues to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

For what seemed like a very long time, the Clean Team didn’t have a whole lot of cleaning to do in downtown Tampa.

These urban beauticians who pick up trash and erase graffiti and power-wash stone were kind of bored.

“There was no trash on the street,” says Julio Montalvo, a project manager for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a nonprofit that operates the Clean Team.

“There were no people on the street. There were no cars on the street.”

But over the past few days, as the city tries to rebound amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Clean Team is suddenly seeing a big trashy change.

More litter.

More graffiti.

More people on the Riverwalk and in Curtis Hixon Park.

And it’s all kind of lovely.

“It’s like someone all of a sudden turned on a faucet, and the water came pouring out,” says Julio. “Now, we have a bunch of trash!”

The 15-person Clean Team has had a front-row seat to watch the awakening of downtown Tampa, as more restaurants, shops, and businesses open.

Julio says, bring on the people and bring on the trash.

“You want to be out here taking care of the city,” he says. “I’ve been here 14 years. I take pride in my work.”