This stinks! City admits that it is no longer picking up street garbage

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It’s official: the city has stopped picking up garbage. Not only in Canarsie, but throughout Brooklyn.

A Sanitation official admitted this week that it ended regular pick-ups of public trash cans along commercial strips last July — instead only picking up the trash when trucks making residential runs happen to drive by.

As a result, pick-ups that occurred as many as 21 times per week — three times a day, every day — are only happening once or twice a week, said Ignazio Terranova, the agency’s citywide community affairs officer.

Residents didn’t need Terranova’s confirmation to know that public trashcans are routinely overflowing lately.

“People just leave [garbage] on the side,” said Manhattan Beach resident Ed Eisenberg, referring to cans on Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue. “Plus, it’s attracting rats.”

In Dyker Heights, the mess is overbearing.

“Frankly, on 13th Avenue, the baskets are overflowing,” complained Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Civic Association, where Terranova spoke on Tuesday night. “Especially on the weekend, it’s disgusting.”

Terranova blamed budget cuts for the drop in pick-ups, citing an $80-million hole that the department had to fill. And he doesn’t predict an increase in collection anytime soon.

“Right now, and for the foreseeable future, I don’t see that changing,” Terranova said.

The elimination of pickups has played a major role in adding a layer of filth to Brooklyn’s commercial strips, Terranova admitted, but he also blamed residents who toss their household trash — and businesses that put their commercial crapola — in city bins.

Both practices, while common, are illegal.

“If you have a garbage can that’s a quarter full, and someone puts a garbage bag from their house in, now you have taken a pretty much empty garbage can and made it three-quarter’s full,” he said.

That’s why some activists have been lobbying the city to actually remove some public trash cans from commercial strips. One community leader, Bay Ridge resident Greg Ahl, thinks the cans are magnets for residential trash.

“On this, I agree with Sanitation.” Ahl said. “There’s always about 80 percent residential garbage rather than litter.”

Commercial areas with Business Improvement Districts are likely to be cleaner than other areas because the self-taxing BIDs “augment Sanitation in keeping our streets clean,” said Sanitation Department spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins. “Once the BIDs bag the litter, we pick up the bagged litter along the regular household garbage collection route.”

The City Council has some blame for the situation. In an effort to spread limited funds around as much as possible, the council cut funding for supplemental basket trucks last year.

But Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) predicted that the cut “will be revisited” next year, given the howls from local residents about the condition of their streets.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll restore some of the funds,” added James, who chairs the Sanitation Committee.

Updated 2:27 pm, October 19, 2011
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