Archive for the tag 'trash'

garbage

The photo above was taken this morning on Avenue U and East 14th Street.

According to reader Tracy M., it’s indicative of “the appalling state of the neighborhood, post snow. This pic was taken this morning at Ave U and East 14. I could have gone for blocks taking similar pictures.”

We saw Sanitation workers catching up on residential streets this morning, and with the snow they surely have had a lot on their plates these last few weeks. But we’re inclined to agree: there’s no real excuse for what you see above.

construction

A long-standing sidewalk obstacle in front of the derelict Maimonides clinic at 3121 Ocean Avenue is finally being fixed, with contractors on the scene yesterday.

The site was previously a pit covered by a foot-tall concrete slab and surrounded by barricades.

Here’s what it looked like when we passed by in October:

construction2

It was covered in trash and debris, and was long on my to-do list for griping here on this site. It bothered me because it not only attracted garbage and was a fairly horrendous eyesore, but also because it was an obstacle that took up a huge portion of sidewalk. Next door to the site is the Bainbridge Center, an adult daycare facility. So it’s fair to assume the area is pretty highly trafficked by seniors and the disabled.

A contractor on the scene told us it was a telephone utility manhole damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Looking into the pit while they worked, it was deep and empty. While the contractor blamed Sandy, I recall this being a problem spot long before the storm, with the sidewalk broken and raised up. I can’t remember if they began the work before the storm, but I believe they did.

It also bothered me because it was supposed to be fixed nearly a year ago. A sign on the site over the summer indicated it was a ConEd job, not a telephone utility, and work was supposed to be done by February:

construction3

That never happened. Some time in the fall this sign was spray painted so that the construction information could not be read. Covering tracks much? Maybe.

Hopefully they finish the work quickly and responsibly. It’ll be nice for neighbors to have their sidewalk back, instead of covered in construction and trash.

garbage

So this is what I stumbled across on my walk to the coffee shop this morning, a putrid stream of slop and waste stretching a quarter of a block long, and filling the air with rancid scent.

The mess is in front of Chikurin, at 1702 Avenue Z. Unfortunately, I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen this. Over the past few weeks, there have been at least three instances of spilled waste, including a full bucket of grease knocked over into the tree bed, poisoning the soil, and creating a foul smell on one of the hottest days of the summer.

All businesses are required to hire their own private carting companies to haul off trash. Some hire better ones than others, and it appears Chikurin’s carter is skirting the strict regulations imposed on them by the Business Integrity Commission that require them to have proper seals and other measures installed on trucks to prevent such spillage.

Sheepshead Bites has had success in the past getting such careless carters fined, such as an incident last year, when a carting company had a broken seal that caused rotting produce and other waste to pour out on East 17th Street near Avenue Y. After surveillance video showing the carting company spill the waste was sent to the commission, they issued several thousands of dollars in fines.

Now we’ve informed the Business Integrity Commission of the latest incident. According to their database, updated quarterly, the carting company responsible is Viking Sanitation. However, a legally required decal on the window at Chikurin indicates only that American By-Products Recyclers is the waste carter – although a phone call to that company confirmed that they only pick up grease and cooking oil, not garbage. Many restaurants have two carters, one for garbage and one for grease, and they’re required to have decals for both. Here’s the lone decal:

carting

The Business Integrity Commission is looking into the matter, and we hope to have an update soon.

Source: Lisanne Anderson

It’s not news to Southern Brooklyn residents that local trash bins have been overflowing with disgusting levels of trash, but now the reason has become a little clearer. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Department of Sanitation (DOS) has significantly reduced enforcement over the past year, issuing less than one quarter of the amount of tickets to residents who illegally dump their home trash in the public bins than in previous years..

The exploding trash problem has gained attention from local politicians like Councilmen Vincent Gentile and David Greenfield. As we previously reported, Gentile recently worked out a deal with the DOS to schedule for more pickups along busy streets in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst while Greenfield has petitioned the DOS on behalf of Borough Park and Midwood residents as to why the trash problem is spinning out of control.

According to the Daily News report, the DOS has issued 78 percent less tickets for illegal dumping than in the previous year. At June 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year, just 922 tickets for dumping were issued, down from 4,185 issued in 2012.  The DOS blamed the drop on the circumstances of Superstorm Sandy, which forced enforcement agents from their normal patrol and into traffic duty. Greenfield said that the results of less enforcement were evident.

“We are obviously seeing the impact of less enforcement on our dirty commercial strips. It’s quite common to see mounds of garbage on our streetcorners,” Greenfield told the Daily News.

The Daily News described the situation at the DOS:

A Sanitation Department spokesman said there hasn’t been a reduction in staff.

But the union representing sanitation enforcement agents said the number of garbage guards dropped from more than 200 to approximately 160 over the past 12 months.

“We can’t be everywhere,” said Ruth Thomas, vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 1182.

And it’s difficult to bust the illegal dumpers.

Agents or sanit bosses must see scofflaws jam their home garbage into city bins to issue a ticket.

Enforcement agents do occasionally dig through the garbage to find the culprit’s name on tossed mail or magazines. But those offenders are simply given an in-person warning.

Councilman Peter Vallone blamed the problem partly on business owners:

Many of the illegal dumpers include business owners who are trying to avoid paying the city to pick up their commercial garbage, said Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens).

He’s proposed raising the fines to $200. But that bill has stalled in committee.

“This is another example of the Bloomberg administration’s priorities being trash-backwards,” he said, referring to the drop in illegal dumping fines.

Of the 922 tickets issued last year, 243 were issued in Brooklyn.

Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The City Council is planning to introduce legislation that would charge consumers 10 cents at grocery and retail stores for plastic bags if they don’t bring their own reusable bags to checkout lines. Politicker is reporting that the proposed legislation, which is aimed at reducing waste, will come to a vote on Thursday (Corrected: See below)

If customers don’t bring their own bags to stores, they will be hit with a dime surcharge that the stores will get to keep. Politicker noted that proponents of the bill have big numbers to back their insistence on the measure as well as the difference between this bill and a similar tax proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that went unsupported by the Council:

According to the bill’s proponents, New Yorkers use approximately 5.2 billion plastic bags per year–the vast majority of which are not recycled. The city also spends an estimated $10 million a year to transport those 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills each year, they said.

Mayor Bloomberg had previously proposed a similar piece of legislation that would have imposed a 6 cent tax on retailers distributing plastic bags–a policy proposal that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not support. But Mr. [Brad] Lander made a clear distinction today between the two pieces of legislation.

“What the mayor was actually proposing was a tax,” he said. “There are some legal questions there about whether the city actually has the power to do that or whether that takes action in Albany.”

The new proposed piece of legislation would not require this oversight from the State Legislature, but would provide the same environmentally-positive impact, Mr. Lander explained.

Part of the legislation would also include fines for stores that don’t follow the new rules, and will provide distribution of the reusable bags to lower income neighborhoods:

The bill also specifies that grocery and retail stores will be precluded from charging the fee until people are given the chance to take advantage of the citywide bag giveaways.

“We’re going to target the giveaway in lower-income neighborhoods. I think we’d actually like to do a meaningful amount of that through the grocery stores,” Mr. Lander explained.

Restaurants would be exempt from the rule and stores that break the rules twice would be slapped with $250 fines.

The charging for bags practice is already in place right here in Southern Brooklyn at the new Aldi Foodmarket (3785 Nostrand Avenue). Politicker also pointed out that similar legislation is present in other cities, including San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is a real lobbying group that represents bag manufacturers, unsurprisingly came out against the proposed legislation:

“New York City residents already pay among the highest taxes in the nation. A 10-cent per bag tax would be a detriment to hardworking families and businesses trying to make ends meet,” said the group’s chair, Mark Daniels. “The proponents of this bill are misinformed and largely rely on science that has been hijacked by environmental activists. A grocery bag tax pushes shoppers toward less sustainable options, like reusable bags, which cannot be recycled, are made from foreign oil and imported at a rate of 500 million annually.”

“If lawmakers are interested in protecting the environment, they should consider the facts and concentrate on meaningful legislation to boost proper reuse and disposal of grocery bags,” he said.

The question remains if the City Council bends to the will of America’s powerful bagging interests.

CORRECTION (8/22/13 10:42 a.m.): The previous version of this article suggested that there would be a vote today. The legislation is solely being introduced today and will have a hearing at a later date, possibly followed by a vote.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (Source: Cymbrowitz's office)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (Source: Cymbrowitz’s office)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is incorporating a novel feature on his website that allows people to suggest laws that they would like to see enacted. In a press release, Cymbrowitz unveiled his “There Ought To Be A Law” button, making him the first Assembly member in the state to directly solicit law suggestions from residents through a dedicated tool on his website.

Cymbrowitz’s new program, which you can access by clicking here, describes its simple function on the site itself:

Have you ever thought to yourself, “There ought to be a law”? Assemblyman Cymbrowitz wants to hear from you.

Maybe you have an idea that will improve our environment, schools or health care system. Perhaps you’ve imagined a way to enhance our quality of life or public safety. Or you’ve thought of a bill to help seniors or youth.

Whatever the issue, here’s your chance to have a voice in the way our government works. Don’t just complain about the state of things. Take an active role and change things.

The laws you suggest must be limited to 250 words, something state legislators ought to consider doing as well.

Okay, I’m going to try it out right here on this website. There Ought To Be A Law that prohibits people from feeding pigeons in areas that aren’t designated as parks. For all I know, this could already be against the law and I’ve written about this in greater detail, but nothing angers me more than the site of rotting bread and bird shit under our overpasses and walkways.

Our publisher, Ned Berke, is chiming in: “There Ought To Be A Law to shower local independent online news organizations with money. Just because.” Keep dreaming, Berke.

All right, folks, have at it. What laws do you suggest?

Garbage

Garbage

You see it everywhere in Southern Brooklyn; bins overflowing with garbage, trash strewn across the streets and collecting over sewer gutters. It is getting so bad that it is hard to blame people for littering when the alternative consists of trying to balance your coffee cup on a trash pyramid. CBS is reporting that residents in Midwood and Borough Park are up to their ears in trash and are demanding the Department of Sanitation (DOS) to do something about it.

Marilyn Leiman, who has spent 50 years living in Midwood, told CBS that the garbage problem has never been worse:

“I never saw it such a mess. If you walk down Avenue J, it’s just awful. And the other thing that gets me is a lot of tourists come here. They come to eat in the kosher pizza store. They come from Israel; from Los Angeles. And I’m so ashamed that they come here and see what it looks like,” Leiman said.

At the junction of Avenue J and East 14th Street, the trash was spilling far out of its intended receptacle — and was piled up in bags and heaps next to it.

Councilman David Greenfield called out the DOS directly:

Greenfield fired a salvo at the Department of Sanitation, saying several commercial strips in Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst are under-served.

“They’re allowing mounds of trash to pile up in our prime commercial areas,” he said.

Greenfield, who praised Sanitation efforts along residential streets, said commercial strips such as Avenue J, Avenue M and Kings Highway, don’t get the service they need. He provided photos taken over a three-day period. The owner of a bagel shop said he sees the trash mounds.

“All over the place, all over, and in the can for sure, but whatever doesn’t fit they have on the ground,” said the owner, Hershie Oberlander.

The merchants were unsure of the number of pick-ups, but the councilman said there’s only one pickup a week. He protested that Bay Ridge residents not far away get two pickups a week.

Greenfield’s reference to Bay Ridge might have something to do with the recent deal that Councilman Vincent Gentile worked out with the DOS for extra garbage pickups along the neighborhoods busiest streets. Gentile’s deal also covered parts of Bensonhurst.

CBS posted a response from DOS spokesperson Belinda Mager.

But a spokeswoman for the Sanitation Department said trash is actually picked up four times a week in the problem areas.

“Regular collection trucks service the area (Ave J + East 15th Street) on Tuesday and Fridays. In addition, there is a dedicated basket truck servicing the area on Sunday and Monday. Those baskets are serviced four days a week,” Mager said.

Something seems strange in Mager’s response as the deal Gentile struck increased pickups to four days a week. If Gentile’s deal was only for parts of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst and if the deal maxed out at four days a week, how could the DOS be collecting four days a week in an area where no deal has been struck?

Either way, as a response to mounting garbage problem, Greenfield has floated the ideas of placing security cameras near bins to track the amount of pickups and to catch people who illegally dump residential trash in the baskets.

vendors

Photo by Steve Barrison

A frustrated Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group, sent out this e-mail to local pols and Sheepshead Bites last night, demanding action against the illegal vendors hawking strawberries, blueberries and other items at the Sheepshead Bay Road entrance to the Sheepshead Bay subway station.

This was taken with my cell on a random week day evening after rush hour in front of the Sheepshead Bay subway station. This has been a complaint we have heard from local merchants afraid to complain publicly fearing they will be retaliated against.

It is many boxes of fruit. There was also much litter and many empty boxes are even piled up across the street left on the sidewalk near our BIG mural under the elevated subway.(East 15th Street)

Is this legal? What kind of permits are needed in front of the entrance/exit to the subway? Can the NYPD, DCA or whoever, do anything? Who enforces this? This has gone on for a very long time.

Clearly this hurts our neighborhood small businesses who pay significant rent for their fruit stands in a brick and mortar store.

Is this being investigated?

The filth alone deserves to be addressed and the legality and public safety too.

We can back up the fact that there’s a lot of grumbling about these vendors, and not just from business owners. We’ve received e-mails and photos from readers fed up with the garbage they leave around. And it’s not a new problem; way back in 2011 we published photos of the boxes of rotting fruits they left abandoned near the Neck Road station, and we’ve also seen their trash adjacent to the empty MTA-owned lot on East 15th Street, between Avenue Y and Avenue Z.

As for who is responsible for cracking down on these guys? If they’re unlicensed, it’s the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) – although there’s precedent for the local police precinct to do enforcement as well. In Sheepshead Bay, the 61st Precinct gives illegal flower vendors the boot on Valentine’s Day. In Brighton Beach, the 60th Precinct does it all year round. The Department of Sanitation is also responsible for busting them for the illegal commercial dumping they appear to be doing when they toss their trash in public places and empty lots.

Oh, and all those links in bold in the paragraph above? Those take you to the contact pages for each of the agencies so you can make your own complaint. You may also want to try Community Board 15, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitzs office and Councilman Michael Nelson‘s office.

UPDATE (2:59 p.m.): We heard from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office noting that he is working with the Health Department to shut down and remove the illegal vendors and that the department will be sending an inspector out.

Stop Feeding the Birds, Please

Stop feeding the birds, and stop littering, you disgusting creep.

To be fair, I haven’t walked under an underpass that wasn’t covered in bird shit. I also haven’t walked under an underpass that wasn’t littered with bread crumbs and discarded rolls. Despite this, ever since I officially moved to Sheepshead Bay last month, the condition of the underpass beneath the B and Q line (East 15th Street between Z and Sheepshead Bay Road) has particularly disgusted me.

It is impossible that I am the only one revolted by the condition of the underpass outside the train station. Yesterday, I took the picture shown above at 5:30 p.m. when hundreds of people were filing off the B train after a long day of work. It was a hot and rainy day and dozens of people like me were hurriedly trying to cross Sheepshead Bay Road as they exited the station.

I felt the frustration of a few people walking in my path when I stopped quickly to take a picture of the bread crumbs, bird shit and garbage lining the underpass across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts. There is little room to navigate on the street when a good 30 percent of it is littered with horrifying, rat-attracting trash.

Here is my question, which one of you jerks feels the obligation to feed the pigeons under the train? Don’t you understand that there is plenty of random garbage and food bits in the entire tri-state area just lying around for the birds to feed off of? These birds have survived thousands of years before there ever was a city and they do not need your help. They have wings, they can fly all day until they find a more appropriate feeding ground.

The underpass is sickening. I’ve seen dead pigeons lying in a pool of bread crumbs mixed with garbage at least five times under that bridge. Five times! In roughly six months!

I’m not sure if they died of natural causes or from overeating but the image is enough to stir the worst fears of total urban decay.

Come on, people. When you litter you lower the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood. You encourage others, especially young people, to disrespect the neighborhood and perpetuate the cycle.

If you want to feed birds, go to the Bay or an open public park and toss a few bread crumbs within reason. Do not, for the love of God, toss whole rolls under train bridges that thousands of people walk by every day. It is disgusting and you should know better.

Photo by Allan Rosen

Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: For those who don’t know Yiddish, a “shonda” means a crying shame. That’s the only way I can think of describing the above picture showing an Adopt-A-Highway segment strewn with weeds and litter. It puts the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and Community Board 15 (CB 15) to shame, although I doubt that the community board is at fault. I could only wonder that if this is a highway beautification zone, how high would the weeds be and how much more litter would have accumulated if CB 15 had not paid to have this site “beautified.”

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