Councilman David G. Greenfield is calling on the Sanitation Department to reassess its policies on issuing summonses and to increase the transparency of its practices. Greenfield’s call comes in the wake of recent information suggesting that ticket issuances for dirty sidewalks and similar violations have been unusually high over the last year.
Over the last year, Sanitation Department tickets accounted for two-thirds of all summonses issued by the Environmental Control Board. Over 417,000 sanitation summonses have been issued in that time – a steep increase from the previous year, when just over 368,000 were issued.
“The residents of my district have increasingly been waking up to find tickets taped to their door, despite their good-faith efforts to keep their sidewalks clean,” Greenfield said. “My constituents tell me that in some cases their blocks are being targeted by Sanitation enforcement agents as often as three times a week. This is just plain unfair, and it is unacceptable. The Sanitation police should be using their resources to go after bad actors like those who dump on our streets – not a homeowner who had a potato chip bag blown onto his or her property.”
Greenfield has long been the City Council’s strongest advocate for neighborhood beautification projects, but said that in this instance, the Sanitation Department has gone too far. “I have secured millions of dollars to keeping our New York neighborhoods clean,” said Greenfield, who created the Council’s popular NYC Cleanup initiative, which allows Councilmembers to dedicate funding to the specific areas in their districts that are most in need of cleaning. “But the way to keep our city beautiful is not by undertaking unfair ticket blitzes in an attempt to drive up revenue.”
Adding to the problem, Greenfield noted, is a disturbing lack of transparency from the Sanitation Department on where and when it has issued tickets. Statistics are only available on a yearly basis, which makes it impossible to get real-time data on what parts of the city are being targeted. Greenfield said he will soon be introducing a bill to require the Sanitation Department to report block-by-block summons issuance statistics on a quarterly basis.
“Increased transparency will benefit all parties, because it will let decision-makers see where problems may exist, and it will also allow New Yorkers to see how their neighborhoods stack up compared to others,” Greenfield said. “Granular reports, issued quarterly, will also make it easier to see when certain areas may be being unfairly targeted in an attempt to generate revenue.”