The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

UPDATE: It's Official: We're Filthy

Just got off the phone with Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, chair of CB9. He was understandably ticked off by the whole affair. He contacted Sanitation and made it absolutely clear that we need more help, more summonses, more attention. Thanks Jake for taking the bull by the horns.

Just followed a Q-tip, and while it ain't a surprise, it IS pretty bumming to be deemed most garbage-strewn neighborhood in the whole City. Read what DNA Info had to say today:

According to the year-end numbers, just 85.1 percent of streets in Community Board 3, which encompasses most of Bed-Stuy, were listed as "acceptable." That's one of the worst marks in the entire city.

Only two other community boards in the city had a lower percentage. In Brooklyn's Community Board 12, which encompasses Borough Park, Midwood and Kensington, only 82.8 percent of streets were listed as acceptable.

And in Community Board 9, which encompasses south Crown Heights and parts of Flatbush, just 82.3 percent of streets were acceptable (emphasis mine)
That's right. Though the title of the piece was that Bed-Stuy is dirty, we're damn dirtier. (If you were caught unawares, we're Community Board 9, from Eastern Parkway to Clarkson, Flatbush/Ocean to Utica). If you've followed the Q for any length of time you'll know that cleaning up Flatbush from Empire to Parkside is a borderline obsession of mine. I even joined CB9 with filth (and safety and housing) on the brain. They even made me chair of Environmental Protection, mostly because no one was doing the gig. That's the committee that deals with Sanitation by the way, and making sure your sewers and water and air aren't killing you. And noise. As you can see by the numbers, I'm doing a heckuva job.

If you recall, the Mad Mommas have done a couple clean-up days, after which the streets look great for a couple 24-hours then quickly soil themselves. So we asked Sanitation to beef up ticket-writing, since businesses and landlords are required to clean up in front of their buildings, not once a week but every day, to 18 inches out into the street. The latest report from DoS is that they're writing double the tickets they were even 6 months ago.

Is it getting better? Well, that depends which way the wind is blowing.


The Snob said...

Tim, I think your last point is telling. I'm beginning to think there's something geographical about the way trash is distributed in Flatbush. Prevailing winds, 90-degree-angle gridded streets, the air velocity of a unladen roti skin, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is too far out of the nabe to register, but does anyone know who is responsible for the ruins at the corner of Church and Bedford next to Erasmus High? The DOE?
That is consistently one of the filthiest and most depressing places around. All the posters with half naked women advertising some upcoming party do nothing to lift the gloom. In fact, they just make it worse.
Although, I don't know what good it would do to clean it when all the students litter garbage there every day coming and going from school.
Which leads to the obvious point. This neighborhood is filthy because the people who live in this neighborhood are filthy.
While I'm sure there are many irresponsible landlords and business owners around here, how could they ever keep up with the amount of garbage and dog crap spread around the neighborhood by all thoughtless and ignorant residents?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Your depiction of the neighborhood residents as filthy is misplaced. Regardless of the individual ignoramuses you may have seen throwing trash around, the job of keeping the streets and sidewalks clean is the owners and business people. On blocks where there is a BID present, like south of Parkside, the enormous number of pedestrians does not overwhelm. We live in a very dense neighborhood, and while there are some jerks littering and letting their dogs do-do their business anywhere they please, it's still the clearly expressed job of building owners to maintain the streets. It doesn't get done because the rules aren't enforced, including the dog laws. If they were, we'd see a change...and fast. Oh, and maybe a bit less dumping by residents and business owners into pedestrian trash bins would help too.

I can sit on my stoop and watch maybe 1,000 people walk by on an average day. How much trash? A few pieces here and there, though it adds up if nothing's done about it. What do I do? If I see them do it I tell them to pick it up, and if I don't, I pick it up myself. I consider it part of the duty of being lucky enough to own property. And I don't feel the least bit resentful about it either. I made some selfish moves in my past too. What goes around...

But I'd caution you against saying things like "the people who live in this neighborhood are filthy." You've got an awful lot of diligent and law-abiding neighbors, myself included, who might take offense at such language. Perhaps you misspoke?

Sean said...

Yeah, I live here and I don't consider myself or anyone I know who lives around here filthy. Saying that they are doesn't make me feel negatively about anyone in the neighborhood other than the person who said it.

I was thinking about this today while I was on my way to pick up my kid. The street I was on was pretty clean. Seems to me most of the side-streets are usually pretty clean. It's Flatbush and Nostrand that are really bad, the areas with businesses.

As far as general cleanliness, my biggest pet peeve is people that don't clean up after their dogs. I've lived in a lot of placed and I've never lived in a neighborhood where it was this bad. People walk their dogs and let them make a mess wherever they feel like it and don't clean up after them. It's gotten so bad that as far as I'm concerned, if you don't clean up after your dog, you ought to have it taken away.

Anonymous said...

If you and all the "people you know" are squeaky clean, then good for you. That doesn't change the fact that on any short walk in the neighborhood I will usually see 3-4 acts of flagrant littering, public urination, etc., etc.

Pass the buck onto business owners all you want. That's just the sort of "someone else will clean it up" attitude that goes through the litterer's mind, if any thoughts are there at all.

Why try to ignore the fact that if there weren't so many people throwing trash on the ground, there wouldn't be such a mess for home/business owners to clean up? If you think that people in this neighborhood don't litter more than residents of the "cleaner" neighborhoods, you are kidding yourself.

tim q said...

Good luck changing behavior. Try not pointing fingers and use them to pick up a Styrofoam container. People litter less on clean streets.

MadMommaCarmen said...

I have to agree with the most recent Anonymous. During both of our community clean-up events, we had our very own neighbors littering right in front of us as we were picking up. One guy on Rogers came out and dumped his large ashtray right on the street that we had just cleaned. At one point, then-Senator Adams ended up heading over to Nostrand to help with a situation where volunteers where cleaning and people were dumping open bags of their household garbage on the sidewalk as they cleaned. The reporter from News 12 aired some footage from that situation, stating that as community members were cleaning, the garbage was still piling up.

Anonymous said...

Littering requires a measure of self-hate.

Anonymous said...

I don't so much mind filthy streets. I find the clinically clean streets of Chicago or midtown Manhattan kind of stale. Dodging dog poo keeps you alert and aware of your surroundings; put down the smartphone and watch your step!

It's littering in the park that gets my goat. I have cleaned a used condom off of playground equipment in the Lincoln Road playground one too many times. You know the saying - "pack it in, pack it out."

-Paul G.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Look, I don't, nor did I, disagree that people litter. That's not my point. What I'm saying is that no sign, or online petition, or shaming campaign is going to stop the bad apples. We hear you. There are some selfish, ignorant, or as the last commenter put it, self-hating people in the neighborhood. There are also lots of dumpers - as Carmen well knows it's hard to catch them in the act and get their license plates. Or in the case of the 20-something hipsters I've seen do it, you gotta publicly stop them and tell them their mothers didn't raise 'em like that so cut it out.

But what's your solution?

The solution as I see it involves us, the people who care, getting sanitation to write more tickets and for people to pick up the trash that is their job by law. I can't tell you how many individual homeowners neglect this duty. If they did it, people would be less likely to litter, because people don't like to be the first to soil the street.

If any of you have a better idea, I'd love to hear it.

Btw, these "poor" business owners are often the worst dumping offenders. They often don't have proper carting companies, so they put out their trash on the corners. Good citizen shopkeeps have no problem keeping the area in front of their businesses clean, except when the wind makes it tough. To which I say, blaming the weather is as old as the hills.

diak said...

While I know that it's the responsibility of businesses to clean the street in front of their establishments—and some of them do a lousy job—I feel badly for many of them. Look at the frustration expressed in MadMommaCarmen's comment above: people dumping literally as you're cleaning up! Now multiply that by every, single, day and you wonder why anyone would want to own a business around here.

An anecdote, representative I think, of the attitude re litter around here: I recall watching one of my neighbors (someone I don't know at all) in a nice Lefferts Manor house who spied a potato chip bag on her property in front of her house. Rather than pick it up and throw it away, she kicked it toward the street. But the bag got snared on the iron fence that separated her property from the sidewalk. So she kicked it again. And again. And again. And again. I think she kicked it 7 or 8 times before it finally made it the extra few inches onto the sidewalk. Now the bag was someone else's problem, she turned and went inside her house...

Paul G: to each his own, but ugh, I'll take stale over ugly any day. For me, heaven looks like Montreal!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Look, I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble here, but it's not the occasional littering that causes widespread problems. It's the dumping. Dumping includes putting big bunches of private trash into the corner bins. It includes people putting trash out in the tree pits on the wrong days. It includes supers (if there are any) in the apartments along Flatbush not securing their garbage properly. Look in front of Original Struggs one of these days...the tree pit is a full of untied up trash. Mr. Struggs, I implore you to either clean it up or tell the dumpers to get it together.

If all businesses had to deal with was littering of candy wrappers and chicken bones, trust me, it wouldn't be such a big deal.

The reason I'm hard on the businesses is that the businesses often show no respect for us at all. We did a random check of those on Flatbush and most had outdated stickers for private hauling. We also caught business owners putting their trash in corner bins, filling them up so that the crap people puts on top goes flying all around.

It's simply not possible to get THAT much garbage from littering alone. AND, we have no BID. It's a friggin' disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Did you see this article on Crown Heights and how the police department will be beefing-up patrol?
How come we can't this level of coverage?
Read below:
Crown Heights Precinct Gets Influx of Rookie Police Officers
By Sonja Sharp on January 14, 2014 2:56pm

A SkyWatch tower outside Ebbets Field Apartments inside an Impact Zone in Crown Heights' 71st Precinct. Police in the neighboring 77th Precinct recently expanded enforcement in two of the area's high-crime corridors.
A SkyWatch tower outside Ebbets Field Apartments inside an Impact Zone in Crown Heights' 71st Precinct. Police in the neighboring 77th Precinct recently expanded enforcement in two of the area's high-crime corridors. View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

CROWN HEIGHTS — Forty-seven NYPD rookies joined Central Brooklyn's 77th Precinct this week, hitting spots where crime is highest, police officials said.

"These are the ones that just got out of the police academy," Deputy Inspector Eddie Lott, the precinct's commanding officer, told residents at a community meeting Monday. "We got a very good group to enhance the group that we already have here."

The influx of new officers would be deployed to the precinct's two Impact Zones, where they would target "high-crime" areas including St. Johns Place near Utica Avenue, Lott said. The St. Johns Place commercial corridor was the site of 60 percent of the precinct's shooting incidents in 2013, Lott said.

Lott was forced to shrink the precinct's two Impact Zones in the fall of 2013, when the previous group of rookies was reassigned, but the new officers would allow Lott to restore coverage and even expand it, he said.

The rookies would pay particular attention to Lincoln Terrace Park, a busy public space on the command's southeastern corner where there has been a string of cellphone thefts, and Milk River, a popular nightclub that opened at 960 Atlantic Ave. between Grand and Washington avenues in the fall, he said.

"We have one of the hottest clubs in Brooklyn, if not in the city, that just opened up — Milk River," said Lott, who praised the club's security staff but warned that crowded clubs often drew thieves.

"So far, so good," Lott added, "but since they’ve been open, they’ve taken a handful of grand larcenies in there ... it's not violent crime, but it's crime nonetheless."

Management at Milk River did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thanks to the precinct's new officers, the eastern Impact Zone will now extend west from Ralph Avenue to Utica Avenue, and from Sterling Place in the north to Eastern Parkway, dipping south to cover Lincoln Terrace Park between Rochester and Buffalo avenues. The western zone will once again include the entire east-west stretch between Nostrand and Franklin avenues, running north-south the entire length of the precinct from Atlantic Avenue to Eastern Parkway.

"We now come down and cover Lincoln Terrace Park and that area of Union Street, which hasn’t been used to seeing [that level of police presence]," Lott said. "The second zone is actually going to be further west...they work a little bit later, because they have a lot of clubs there."

As of the first week of December, 2103, major crime in the 71st Precinct had risen 13.6 percent compared to 2012, according to NYPD statistics. The biggest jump was in grand larceny, which was up 31 percent as of Dec. 8, 2013, compared to the same time the previous year.

Mapletree House said...

Wait. Our streets are dirtier than Canal Street in Chinatown? There's, like, fish heads and stuff in the gutter. Its true I see more chicken bones on the street in our neighborhood but we are no where up there on the fish heads leader board. (Honk if you recognize sarcasm)

Mapletree House said...

Two weeks on warnings and two weeks of summonses from ECB should get landlords to take notice. If DOS sorted through the household garbage bags in the corner trash cans, you would find 3rd class mail and other means of identifying the source of the violation.