Over at the Community Board and its Environmental Protection Committee we've spent the better part of a year warning local businesses that trash on the Flabenue must be reined in or we'll ask Sanitation to step up enforcement. Gradually, we've seen more summonses issued, as DoS has been directed by District Manager Pearl Miles to clamp down. We've repeatedly warned the merchants, who along with landlords are ultimately responsible by City ordinance to maintain the cleanliness of their buildings to six inches into the street, that they must step it up. Now the next phase begins...ensuring that each business has an updated arrangement with a private carting company contract, a City-wide requirement meant to ensure that business trash is picked up daily and that merchants don't simply dump their trash at corner bins. To be clear, most businesses comply, and are disturbed to see their neighbors trying to freeload. It ain't good for unity, that's for sure. And it ain't good for business neither.
If it sounds like we're being harsh, consider this. The rules are the same throughout the City, and apply to private homeowners as well. We're not singling out Flatbush - we're trying to drag it into the modern era. The thinking behind the laws is simple: the City can't be everywhere at all times cleaning up after selfish litterers and thoughtless supers, landlords and merchants. So it sets certain requirements and twice daily (between the hours of 9-10am and 4-5pm) issues summons for dirty sidewalks. That's to create incentives for everyone to do their part. IF an avenue wants to organize into a strong merchant's association or, more rigorously, a City-sponsored Business Improvement District, it can and is encouraged to do so. In so doing, they then have resources to hire someone to clean the streets and bag trash for them (like the Flatbush BID does south of Parkside Avenue). I don't think this is the job of local residents - everywhere else in the City merchants take the pride and their longterm interests into account and do the legwork. We residents are asked to place litter in receptacles, make sure our garbage is set out at the right times in the right places, and owners and landlords must take care of their own. For we residents to pick up the tab is essentially an acknowledgment that we haven't everyone on board. And getting everyone on board is much more important than ponying up dough or organizing cleanup days, in my opinion.
I've been over all this before, I know. I must seem like a man obsessed. I'm really not. If nothing came of the effort I wouldn't die from heartbreak. I do find it unacceptable that an open business would look outside and see mounds of filth and do nothing. Sure it's probably not YOUR trash, but have you no pride in your business, or feeling for others who have to walk through and past the mounds? Even the biggest businesses aren't responsible for more than a few square feet! I've met with Delroy at that FEPMA merchant's group and with various interested local folks. We've done a couple community-wide cleanup days to bring awareness to the issue - props to all who made those happen (congrats Skei on the baby girl!) My wife and I routinely walk into places and remind them of their responsibility to do their part. Many people have stepped it up. Delroy arranged a program with the D.A.'s office to get community-service-mandated folks out here to bag trash, and we hope that will continue. We've done everything we can do to let people know what they need to know, and to warn of impending enforcement of the private carter requirements. It's do or die time - either you're part of the community, or you're a drag on the community. The City will aggressively fine you for the latter.
People ask why I'm so dogged about dumping, tenacious about trash, livid about litter. Simple. A relatively few buildings make most of the trouble, and I want to make sure we let them know how we feel, and compel them to change their behavior. Because, as I noted when I brought it up at the CB9 meeting a few months ago, it's a "consensus issue." Very, very few people are opposed to cleaning up the trash. So it's something everyone can get on board for, to make all of our qualities of life better.
And so, let the more rigorous ticketing begin. Below is an example of a sanitation summons, levied last week on our un-neighborly neighbors BOOST Mobile, or rather the landlord, at 701 Flatbush. That block in particular is a real dump, particularly in the middle. They, and Original Struggs, simply don't seem to give a hoot (don't pollute.) They can no longer claim ignorance, however.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.