Areas of South Brooklyn irked by sanitation ticketing

According to one local councilmember, some South Brooklyn residents feel like they’re being taken for a dirty ride when it comes to keeping their streets clean.

With loads of illegally dumped trash already plaguing the streets of neighborhoods like Borough Park, Councilmember David Greenfield feels like residents in the nearby neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Kensington, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, are getting the short end of the stick in being ticketed for dirty sidewalks.

According to Greenfield’s office, Sanitation Department (DSNY) tickets accounted for two-thirds of all summonses issued by the Environmental Control Board over the last year. More than 417,000 sanitation summonses were issued in that time – a sizeable increase from last year’s 368,000 issued tickets.

“The residents of my district have increasingly been waking up to find tickets taped to their door, despite their good-faith efforts to keep their sidewalks clean,” Greenfield said. “My constituents tell me that in some cases their blocks are being targeted by Sanitation enforcement agents as often as three times a week. This is just plain unfair, and it is unacceptable. The Sanitation police should be using their resources to go after bad actors like those who dump on our streets – not a homeowner who had a potato chip bag blown onto his or her property.”

According to city law, residents can be ticketed up to $100 (for a first or second offense, $200 for third or subsequent offenses) if loose rubbish – light garbage which is likely to be blown or scattered – is not securely bundled or packaged before being placed out for collection.

Similarly, any improper disposal of garbage, littering, or sweeping of materials (e.g. throwing garbage out of windows or leaving any garbage on a street, vacant lot or public place), can cost anywhere from $100 to $450 for a first offense.

“The Department of Sanitation personnel uses discretion and check for some indication that regular attempts have been made to clean,” DSNY’s Director of Public Affairs Kathy Dawkins told this paper. “Sanitation’s Residential Enforcement Routing Program requires residents to sweep their sidewalks clean for two one-hour periods during 8 to 8:59 a.m. and 6 to 6:59 p.m.  During these time periods, Sanitation can issue notices of violation for  dirty sidewalk, failure to clean 18 inches into the street, and dirty area.

“Before the start of the routing program,” Dawkins continued, “Sanitation personnel could issue violations for these conditions at any time. The routing program was instituted to address the concerns shared by homeowners. Typically, if homeowners are cleaning their properties (or have made arrangements to have their properties cleaned) on a regular basis, regardless of what time the cleaning takes place, the likelihood is that, in general, the properties tend to be clean, thereby resulting in not having conditions that might lead to a violation.”

Greenfield, who created the Council’s NYC Cleanup initiative –which dedicates funding to specific areas most in need of cleaning – says that more transparency within the agency would go a long way. He currently has a bill in the works that would require DSNY to construct block-by-block summons statistics four times a year.

“Increased transparency will benefit all parties, because it will let decision-makers see where problems may exist, and it will also allow New Yorkers to see how their neighborhoods stack up compared to others,” Greenfield said in reference to DSNY statistics only being made available on a yearly basis. “Granular reports, issued quarterly, will also make it easier to see when certain areas may be being unfairly targeted in an attempt to generate revenue.”

According to Dawkins,”Citywide, the Department of Sanitation’s scorecard rating for FY 15 was 92.7 percent which increased to 95.0 percent in FY 16. In FY 15, Brooklyn 12 (Borough Park, Kensington and Ocean Parkway) ranked the dirtiest of the 59 districts with a rating of 82.9 percent. The following fiscal year the Brooklyn 12 scorecard cleanliness level increased to 85.1 percent, but, Brooklyn 12 still remained the dirtiest out of the city’s 59 districts.  The department will continue to work with local leaders and elected officials to improve Brooklyn 12’s street cleanliness level.”

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