Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Burn This!

Over at Brownstoner, there’s a hilarious post about a South Williamsburg woman, an innocent bystander by this account, getting a ticket from a sanitation worker while holding an infant in her arms. This gem of a story came about because apparently the sanitation police have gone ticket crazy, which I can verify anecdotally, at least.

Several months ago I came back to my apartment building on St. Marks Place to a sanitation ticket taped to the door. Keep in mind I live between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, the tattoo/body piercing capital of the world, where monstrous piles of puke act as fertilizer in the tree pits most Sunday mornings. The offense was “litter on the sidewalk.” This struck me as completely hilarious, since there is hardly a moment when there ISN’T litter on the sidewalk. So I called the sanitation department to find out if littering tickets are a regular thing on this block, and this is what Taryn Duckett said:

Since 1992, St. Marks Place [which is actually three different blocks] has received 25 summonses for various things such as failure to recycle to dirty sidewalk.

By my calculation, that’s roughly two tickets a year for three blocks. Then a couple months later, there was ANOTHER sanitation ticket on my apartment building’s door, and that would definitely exceed previous ticket averages. I’m thinking there’s a sanitation ticket campaign going on.

I understand trash in New York City is a problem of epic proportion, but so was the crime rate at one point in time. Forget about noise. Bloomberg could VASTLY improve the quality of life in the city by taking a Comstat approach to eradicating the street trash problem. This may or may not include handing out tickets to innocent women holding babies in their arms, but it certainly requires a much more strategic, citywide approach. A good place to start might be with a demonstration project going on in Queens where 50 solar-powered trash compactors are taking the place of curbside trash cans. Read more about it here.

Maybe New Yorker's could start our own version of Burning Man to raise awareness of the issue. For two weeks a year, everyone collects street trash, hauls it out to the Jersey shore and sets it all on fire while we dance around in loin cloths.