(New York Daily News): Mayor Adams unveiled a new policy Monday aimed at cracking down on illegal trash disposal and cleaning up the neighborhoods that most frequently have to deal with it.
“We’re going after the dumpers,” Adams said at a press conference in the South Bronx. “We want to identify those habitual dumpers. Trust me, it’s a small number of people who believe that they can dump like this and get away with it. And we’re going to target them and make it a no longer profitable experience to dump anywhere in our city.”
As reported on Daily News Adams announced the new policy at a recently cleaned-up stretch of 137th Street in the Bronx, where he showed off how the city’s Sanitation Department cleared up trash that had been left and scattered there last week.
Part of the city’s plan will rely on deploying cameras in problem areas and then tracking those who illegally dispose of trash — some of whom presumably do so in hopes of avoiding paying a fee for dumping garbage somewhere else legally.
At least 15 surveillance cameras will be deployed in the South Bronx alone, according to Democratic City Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who represents the area.
Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch suggested it won’t just be the Bronx that keys in on illegal dumping with cameras, though.
“Just last week I was testing out a new camera we had deployed and easily found a commercial dumper leaving his waste in a lot in Brooklyn,” Tisch said. “Our sanitation enforcement division tracked him down and now he’s got a $4,000 summons to deal with. If you dump on our communities, we will come after you.”
The focus on companies and individuals who dump their waste illegally is part of a broader policy outlined in the city’s recently adopted budget. Under the spending blueprint, the city is putting an additional $7.5 million toward so-called “precision cleaning initiatives,” which are focused on cleaning up areas most commonly used for illegally dumping trash.
Neighborhoods that have been most frequently targeted by illegal trash disposal include the South Bronx, Harlem, Washington Heights, Brownsville and Greenpoint.
Another $4.5 million of new city funding will go toward cleaning up vacant lots and $22 million will pay for litter baskets being emptied more frequently — 50,000 more times per week, according to Adams and Tisch.
The more aggressive approach to trash removal is rooted in the COVID pandemic when complaints about garbage soared and the Sanitation Department was forced to absorb budget cuts under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Cleaning was completely decimated through cuts, and anyone who looked outside could see the difference immediately,” said Tisch, who worked under de Blasio as commissioner for the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
“The numbers don’t lie,” she continued. “February of 2020, before the cuts, there were 58 311 complaints citywide for overflowing litter baskets. By July of that year — only one month after the budget cuts — that number ballooned to 790 complaints.”
Adams, who famously staged the execution of about 90 rats when he was Brooklyn borough president, also noted, perhaps gleefully, that the city will be doubling down on its efforts to cut down on the rodents’ food supply with new rat-resistant trash cans, an initiative that’s projected to cost about $4.8 million.
“These are rats’ steps,” a grinning Adams said, pointing to the mesh on one of the garbage cans currently used by the city. “I’ve watched rats climb up these baskets. So, you know, we’ve assisted them in this design. So we have to get a new model.”