Down on the beach at Lakeview Commons Monday morning, a few families bobbed in the water, a couple children ran haphazardly along the rocky shelves, and a small group of volunteers picked their way through the sand.
“I would say the most common thing we’re picking up is cigarette butts,” said Leslie Schultz, who volunteered her time to pick up garbage after the holiday weekend’s crowds. “You’ll find a lot in little spots. You can tell someone just sat there for a few hours and smoked.”
A handful of volunteers led by Schultz and Rob Giustina of On Course Events have made the beach cleanup a weekly endeavor. But after this past weekend, anyone embarking on a beach cleanup had their work cut out for them.
“I can’t really move a foot without finding more,” Schultz said, carrying a grabber and an orange 5-gallon bucket nearly full of trash. “I’d say the most interesting thing we find is shoes. I’ve found two pairs.”
Giustina, whose company On Course Events uses the beach for his weekly concert series Live at Lakeview on Thursday, reasoned that Mondays are the best day for a beach cleanup.
“We figured it’s best we come out on Monday,” he said. “That way, we clean up after the whole (weekend) party, rather than just our event.”
Roy Foster, who lives in the Al Tahoe neighborhood near Lakeview Commons, joined Giustina and Schultz to pick up the mess.
“I think some people think the whole world is an ashtray,” Foster said, as he used a grabber to dig a butt from the sand and load it into his bucket.
The group said smaller bits of garbage is a big problem at the popular spot. Common finds were cigarette butts, small plastic wrappers, bits of broken glass and the occasional bottle cap.
“It’s just a shame that people can see the lake and they still throw their cigarette butts,” Giustina said.
Schultz, who also works for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said a another group led by the League came out to pick up trash on July 5. They collected more than 300 pounds, she said. But even a small group, like Monday’s, can get a lot of garbage in an hour, she added.
Giustina said he hoped the city would step in and begin issuing citations for littering at the beach. He thinks the shame of getting a littering ticket would keep people from tossing their trash, he said.
“If you got a parking ticket, you’d whine and whine, but if you got a littering ticket, you wouldn’t tell your wife,” Giustina said.