City to North Brooklyn: Filthy streets means lots of alternate-side parking

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Greenpoint and Williamsburg are so filthy that the city says it cannot cut the number of days it sweeps the streets.

North Brooklyn drivers have long begged the Department of Sanitation to reduce alternate-side parking, claiming that four days of weekly street cleaning is excessive — but an agency spokeswoman said the city will not reward neighborhoods that can’t pick up after themselves.

Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins claims the city had no choice but to reject a Community Board 1 application for less street sweeping after Williamsburg and Greenpoint fell below city standards for cleanliness, according to data compiled during a three-month survey last year.

“The Community Board could apply again for a reduction in street cleaning regulations — once the area has two consecutive fiscal years with a rating of 90 percent or above,” Dawkins said.

Some residents agree that North Brooklyn’s streets are dirty — but said the neighborhood’s garbage problem at least partly the city’s fault.

“They should reduce alternate-side parking and pick up the trash on the street,” said John Tapper, owner of Greenpoint grocery store, The Garden. “Watch them sweep — they should be going five miles an hour and they go 15. Most of them just brush that stuff onto the sidewalk.”

Community leaders hope the city will reverse its position, or at least reduce parking requirements on some of the cleaner side streets in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

“We have to explore all the possibilities, but we’re not ging to give up until we get some satisfactory answers from Sanitation,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), who wrote a letter on Feb. 3 asking the Department of Sanitation to reconsider.

Contrary to local mythology, alternate-side parking rules did not begin when Dutch sailors were forced to move their fleet from the Hudson River to the East River — in fact, the policy has bedeviled drivers nearly every week since 1950.

But the parking rules aren’t without reprieves: the city has typically tweaked its requirements on religious holidays, after snowstorms, during traffic updates, and when neighborhoods deemed tidy enough request reductions in street sweeping.

In 2007, Park Slope residents asked the city to change its street cleaning schedule and the Department of Sanitation obliged, reducing street sweeps on residential blocks to two 90-minute intervals per week while increasing sweeps on commercial streets from four to six days a week.

Freeman Street resident Chris Gray, who owns a cheese shop on Manhattan Avenue, says the city should find a simliar compromise for Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

“The avenues are a mess but the side streets are okay,” said Gray. “Our store is at a weird eddy — there’s a swirl of trash here on a windy day. You see all kinds of crap blowing on Manhattan Avenue.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at or by calling (718) 260-2547.
Updated 6:03 pm, March 9, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I heard that Transportation Alternatives instructed its minions to throw their trash directly into the street so that this would happen. Looks like it worked.
March 7, 2012, 9:14 am
trans alt from my bike says:
Hell yeah, I've tossing my trash everywhere, to make sure nothing gets any easier for drivers in Brooklyn. I'm also gathering signatures to make sure drivers have to pay market value to park on any street, that will be coming soon!!!
March 7, 2012, 9:20 am
Nuts from Southside says:
Maybe Sanitation oughtta try filling the street sweepers with water. Also lowering the brushes, enacting them so that they rotate, and driving less that 20 M.P.H. seems to have a beneficial effect.
March 7, 2012, 9:39 am
bb from GP says:
Perhaps the city needs to push education programs in school that this isn't the third world, you don't drop your litter everywhere, put it in a trash can or take it home. Needs a cultural shift re. people being slobs. I've seen people eating fast food then dropping the whole empty bag on the street where they are standing. Challenging them either results in them picking it up or a mouthful of foulness. The latter will no doubt complain that the city doesn't clean their neigborhood properly - it only cleans the rich zip codes. here's a clue - if you drop crap where you live then where you live will look like crap.

Also as a driver I'm fine with alt. side parking - otherwise you'll get people hogging spots for months on end.
March 7, 2012, 9:49 am
Juan from Gowanus says:
It's so easy to not litter. What is the matter with people
March 7, 2012, 9:50 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
When these were Latin and Polish neighborhoods I recall the streets being fairly clean. did the demographic change in these neighborhoods? What's different?
March 7, 2012, 10:01 am
D from Sunset Park says:
Of course it's cultural. Look at a neighborhood like Sunset Park, whose blocks could easily feel as nice as the ones in Park Slope to the north. People there just throw trash wherever they want, and everyone wonders why it looks like a ——hole as soon as you step out of the subway.
March 7, 2012, 10:14 am
Adrastos from bath beach says:
We need alternate because people are pigs and throw litter everywhere.

Bay Parkway at 86th street is absolutely disgusting. I have never seen so much litter, the garbage cans are always full and overflowing, maybe one isn't enough, try two...

I saw a Chinese man take 2 bottles out of his parked car and drop them in my tree beds in front of my apartment building.

I then egged his car ( I'm on the top floor) as he drove off stopped and couldn't figure out where the eggs came from.

Bay Parkway at the Belt Parkway is another disgusting area, hasn't been cleaned in years.

Soho in the City is filthy, disgusting, and dirty. i was shocked at the condition last week while shopping.

What is the mayor doing about it, nothing
March 7, 2012, 10:36 am
Bmd from Williamsburg says:
Take a look around. There are barely any trash cans on the corners here.
March 7, 2012, 11:26 am
Bmd from Williamsburg says:
Take a look around. There are barely any trash cans on the corners here.
March 7, 2012, 11:26 am
Ed from Greenpoint says:
Williamsburg is gross and dirty. Everyone knows that. It's not the old timers it's the rich, bratty hipsters who do it. I watch them, call them out and they roll their eyes. If you wanted a beautiful neighborhood, you picked the wrong one.
March 7, 2012, 11:32 am
Ant from Greenpoint/Williamsburg says:
There aren't any damn trash cans. I've lived in the area for almost 2 years now and it's one of the first things I noticed, lots of trash blowing around in the streets and NO garbage cans!
March 7, 2012, 3:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I think that the littering laws should be enforced more. When this is not being done, more will litter knowing that they can get away with it. If there is no trash can in site, they should either find where there is one or just take it home with them and throw it away there. BTW, many of the alternate side parking signs outside of Manhattan are usually in affect for one day compared to where most of them in Manhattan are for two days of the week unless it's one of those special days where it's suspended, though that doesn't always extend to other parking regulations.
March 7, 2012, 4:03 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
you can't compare the streets in greenpoint & williamsburg to park slope.
the folks who live in park slope are alot cleaner and take pride in their neighborhood. it's just a fact. look at the streets & sidewalks.
March 7, 2012, 5:02 pm
Ed from Greenpoint says:
Whenever I go down to Park Slope, I notice how clean everything is. Sometimes there are overflowing trashcans on 7th Avenue, but generally I see people out sweeping, picking up trash and generally caring for their neighborhood. Some of the Polish older people in my neighborhood do it too, but generally Park Slope is much much cleaner and well cared for. People treat Williamsburg and parts of Greenpoint like one big outdoor trashcan.
March 7, 2012, 5:44 pm
Rich from Greenpoint says:
I agree that the problem is the hipster douches. Now, there are some hipsters who care about trash but generally it is the bratty, entitled hipsters who feel like someone else will clean up after them like mommy and daddy have done for so long. I pick up trash all the time on my street and I see the old timers sweeping always but, it only helps marginally. The other day I saw these two 20 something hipster ——es; I say ——es because, they were drinking coffee and before they went into a building, they left their coffee cups in front of said building on the side of the street. I said, "really, cmon." They just shrugged their shoulders and giggled. I was so pissed. I know they don't live in the neighborhood so why should they care, and they don't. This is the general sentiment. People see it is dirty already and just figure, eff it. I can't stand it. But, NY has been dirty for a long time. People don't care. I pick up my trash and others trash all the time and like to think it helps. You KNOW this would never happen on Fifth Avenue in the 50's in midtown, noooo.. For some reason, that area is ALWAYS clean.
March 8, 2012, 4:36 pm
Ed from Greenpoint says:
Most of Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn are clean. Parts of Queens are quite clean too. It has everything to do with the citizens of the particular neighborhood and you can tell if a neighborhood is a community by how clean it is. Williamsburg and to an extent, Greenpoint are transient neighborhoods with many renters, most of which are young and entitled. They don't clean, as you say. The city keeps high traffic tourist destinations clean, but Soho is sometimes filthy. In Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights, the people there care about their homes and they clean up more. It's just a fact. I don't think the city necessarily does more or less in any particular area, but it's the residents who do or don't care about littering. It's gotten totally out of hand in our neck of the woods.
March 8, 2012, 4:48 pm
Danelle from Wallabout says:
We have NO TRASH CANS!!!! None! I live in a building with 120 lofts and we have been begging the city for a single trash can for YEARS and they refuse. Washington Ave between Park and Myrtle has trash blowing's insane!
March 8, 2012, 6:50 pm
Rich from Greenpoint says:
@ Ed, I totally concur. I grew up partially in Park Slope in the 70s and it was lovely then. Parts of the slope are dirty too. I also agree that Greenpoint and Wburg have a lot of renters who just do not care. I thought about this story last night as I watched an old Polish woman sweeping in front of her building. I picked up some trash last night and just thought to myself that every little bit helps. I also saw two 20 somethings possibly having drunken sex and then falling into a car. It just makes me sad because Greenpoint can be such a beautiful area and when I see streets that are well kept, I yearn for our street to be cleaner. I agree that some streets in Greenpoint are very well kept, mostly because there are people who either own or have been living there for a long time. Also, some renters seem to really care about being clean. I just do not get why you would litter where you live or anywhere. There are tons of cans everywhere. The worst is gum. If you go to any other city, (maybe not Philly), you do not see all these gum stains everywhere. The first time I went to Chicago I realized how dirty our city is. I have lived in NYC nearly my entire life and wish people would love and care for it as much as some of us do. Sigh
March 9, 2012, 8:42 am
Johnny from Greenpoint says:
Not to excuse the epidemic of irresponsible residents and pet owners whose carelessness makes Greenpoint streets and sidewalks filthy, but building owners and businesses ought to be doing a better job of making sure their places are clean -- and absorbing big fines when they're not.
March 9, 2012, 10:46 am
Greg from Greenpoint says:
We have a lot of abandoned buildings near the water in Greenpoint where people go drink and they smash bottles everywhere, and people let their dogs poop all over the place and don't pick it up--NASTY! These warehouses don't do anything to clean up around their properties either...please call 311 and complain!

I say SHAME on the community board, city council and others who refuse to place trash cans along Franklin and West Streets!!! They claim it's a zoning thing--GET ON IT NOW!
March 9, 2012, 11:50 am
BB from GP says:
While it would be nice to have more trash cans - what kind of lame excuse is that? If I've got trash I don't just look for a visible trash can and then drop it where I'm standing if I can't see one - it take it with me. Thats what grown ups do.
March 9, 2012, 1:56 pm
No littering! from williamsburg says:
I cant believe the alt transport ppl wrote that you should litter!! Wow.. defeats the purpose of saving the envt! And i commute to long beach... which would take 2 hrs by train. Sue me for wanting to drive there! But i agree with needing more trash cans. I never litter and always hold on to my trash until i can find a can. But people get used to what they see. When i visit India... littering is the only way to dispose of trash lol... so i got used to doing what i saw. People learn by example.
Sept. 13, 2012, 5:54 pm
Emily from Williamsburg says:
April 27, 2014, 1:23 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!