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.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Trash Violations

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.




12 comments:

babs said...

Yay! Please keep it up - and can Pearl ask the DoS to target Nostrand Ave as well, please (although it's nowhere near as bad as Flatbush)?

The Curmudgeon said...

Great work. I have started reminding homeowners in my community of their responsibility to keep their tree pits clean - can you give an example of the language you and your wife use? I'm having trouble putting together sufficiently firm but non-argumentative language.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Good work. Keep at it and be as aggressive as needed without apologies. It's not cruel or unfair to ask businesses to stop ignoring the piles of garbage on their sidewalks. The worst stretch of Flatbush to my eyes is between Lincoln Rd and Empire. It's INSANE. Just disgusting. That stretch is the gateway to all the Flatbush neighborhoods - what a way to represent.

Anonymous said...

Come down to Flatbush between Winthrop and Parkside on the west side of the street going north. JJ's side... it is putrid.

And it stops traffic to the wonderful places - Globe Electronics (that guy is GREAT!!) and Jamaican Pride. Those two are true treasures.

YOu wanna make a hit in the office for less than 5 bucks? Head to Jamaican Pride and get a loaf of Jamaican Coconut Sweetbread.

Anonymous said...

I've got ZERO sympathy for the businesses on Flatbush that allow garbage to pile up. Chicken bones, fast food wrappers, beer bottles, hair extensions, dog crap. It's obnoxious and disgusting, and if hitting them in the wallet is the only way to instill a sense of civic duty, then fine. If they resent it, too freakin' bad. The number of times I've had to pick soda cups out of the branches of street trees is ridiculous. If you can't respect the tiny slice of your environment the public has to traverse, I do not care if you are driven out of business by onerous fines.

Anonymous said...

It's about time. Please keep hitting them where it hurts! Some of these businesses have no respect for their neighbors. How do they even expect someone to patronize their businesses is beyond me!!!

RastaPasta said...

i hope this isn't taken the wrong way. I am squarely on the side of cleaner streets. but...

Culturally speaking, many people in our neighborhood regard where they live as babylon. They have little incentive to take care of a place that has historically taken advantage of them and left them with little. Being 'forced' to do something (cleaning up trash) is viewed as a continuation of the system treating them as less than.

I hope that this OPINION isnt too much for the readers of this blog. I hope that the next several comments aren't about gentrification, how this is a trolling comment, etc.

I am just trying to participate and add some perspective.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Q for your keeping pressure on this trash issue. I just came back to from a shopping trip to DR and I noticed that early in the am a few building super are out there sweeping many parts of Flatbush avenue and it has improved in the last year. As Anon 6:55 has remarked the stretch between Winthrop and Parkside is where you need to focus the summons! The landlord of the building at the corner of Flatbush and Parskide where many of these businesses are located should get special focus.

The Snob said...

I appreciate Rasta's comments, and agree that there are cultural differences as to what to do with your chicken bones and that this adds to the scourge of litter in PLG. But that shouldn't apply to the business owners, who just have to clean up after their neighbors, period. Just like I do, every day in front of my house.

diak said...

I am all for pressuring the local businesses and landlords to own up to their responsibility to clean up their property, (many thanks for speaking up Mr CF) but I think some of the anger directed at them in the post and the comments is misplaced. Although they're responsible for cleaning up the mess, by and large I don't think they're the ones who create it. For that we have many selfish, thoughtless neighbors to thank.
It might be the law, but it has to be frustrating, day in day out...

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Snob, cultural differences is not an excuse for business owners who go into business knowing the laws then just don't follow them. But if there are no consequences then why should they? In the end, as with so many different things lowering quality of life in NYC, if not endangering our lives like cars speeding and running lights and turning into crosswalks without looking which is the biggest way people get killed, it's really about the city actually enforcing the laws. In the upcoming elections in NYC I am not voting for ANY candidate who doesn't promise to get tougher on all these things. If for no reason than to raise money for the city. The fact they'll fire teachers before they fine a scofflaw business owner it's just absurd.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Feeling the change already. THANK YOU.