It is a common nighttime occurrence for people to dump trash outside Jamaica Avenue storefronts. Then, Sanitation Department agents writes summonses in the middle of the night, fining the victimized property owners for failing to dispose of this rubbish that they never even had the chance to see. This practice not only adds insult to injury; it also costs struggling business owners hundreds of dollars.
The WRBA has been hit repeatedly by this unjustifiable practice. In recent weeks, it has received Sanitation tickets at 1:05 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. for trash dumped long after business hours outside its Jamaica Avenue storefront.
Today, the WRBA wrote to Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, asking her to end the practice. Previous efforts to communicate with Sanitation Department personnel have not resulted in any discernible changes.
Last year, then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wrote a letter to the Sanitation Department (available here) to defend the WRBA and encourage the end of middle-of-the-night ticketing. He called for the rules to be changed to mirror those regarding shoveling snow; property owners cannot be fined in the middle of the night for failing to shovel snow that had just fallen. Council Member Eric Ulrich also said at the time that he would pursue legislation to cease the practice. So far, though, property owners continue to be fined for dumping they could not possibly have prevented or corrected. Moreover, Sanitation Department agents routinely take the trash with them when they write the ticket, without providing any photographs to the property owners—meaning that the property owners have no evidence of the infractions for which they are being fined.
"Enough is enough. The Sanitation Department has refused to listen to us, and they've refused to listen to Bill de Blasio. This unfair practice must end," WRBA President Martin Colberg said. "The Sanitation Department should use its resources better—with more stings for illegal dumping, or by doing a better job removing signs illegally posted on public property. Instead, it's taking advantage of small businesses and residents who literally could not have avoided the tickets they're receiving. It's frustrating and it's wrong."
The WRBA has previously called on the Sanitation Department to end this practice, and for its elected officials to pass legislation if Sanitation refuses to do so. Now, the WRBA renews its call for the Sanitation Department to act appropriately, and also asks Mayor de Blasio to help put an end to a type of enforcement he criticized while he was Public Advocate.
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