Coney Islanders report increase in rats amid ongoing construction

City spends millions to fight rodents with new trash bins, more rubbish removal
Locals claim Coney Island has been taken over by rats!
Associated Press / Julie Jacobson

Coney Islanders say they’ve noticed a sharp increase in rats around the People’s Playground this year, citing continuous construction and overflowing garbage as possible causes for the rodents’ takeover.

“It is really bad,” said local Ashley L, who blamed new high-rise developments and renovations from Superstorm Sandy for the increase in rodents. “[They’re] even in the buildings.” 

Residents say that the furry menaces tend to cluster around construction sites throughout the peninsula — but are particularly visible by W. 19th and W. 34th streets and Surf Avenue — which were previously empty lots infested by rats.

“You dig up their home, and they need somewhere to go.” said Gravesend resident and construction worker Aaron Rivera. “You have so much construction all over the place.”

Others point to the amusement district as a rat favorite, claiming that the garbage that accumulates under the boardwalk creates a haven for the little critters.

rats in coney island
There have been a lot of rat sightings by the neighborhood IHOP. Jeff Sanoff

“It’s a buffet for them,” said Eddie Mark, the district manager of the local community board. 

To combat the pests’ presence, local pols have pledged to improve waste management. On Nov. 12, Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) announced a $260,000 cleanup initiative, which would fund additional sanitation services throughout commercial areas in Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend and Coney Island, according to the Brooklyn Reporter. In addition, a recent $8.6 million increase in the Sanitation Department’s budget will allow for more basket collections in “hot spot” vicinities citywide.

And despite the complaints, representatives from the Department of Health claim that Coney Islanders reports fewer rat infestations than most neighborhoods in New York City. Only 7-percent of about 1,000 rat inspections in the district have failed in 2019, they and the area logged fewer 311 complaints about the rodents than most other Brooklyn neighborhoods — although health officials concede that the 311 reports are not a good indicator of rat activity.