Trash ticket: City issues summons for pile of garbage it told neighbors to dump

Relocated refuse: Because a change in the city’s trash-pickup policy, residents of four private streets have to drag their household garbage — and even bulk items — out to the public streets and dump them in from of their neighbors’ houses. One woman on 94th Street has already gotten a ticket for other people’s trash.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Neighbors are outraged that the city tried to fine a Bay Ridge woman $100 for letting other residents’ garbage bags pile up in front of her 94th Street home — after it ordered residents of a nearby private street to leave them there for pick-up.

Earlier this year, the Department of Sanitation ordered residents of four private streets to start hauling their trash to the nearest public street corner to be collected, and the irony that the agency is now penalizing their neighbor for the pileup shows how flawed that new policy is, one resident said.

“Because of the change of policy, [the agency has] created a sanitary condition and is now going to penalize people for a condition created by its policy change,” said Bill Larney, who lives on Barwell Terrace, one of streets affected by the change.

The department has since moved to withdraw the July 26 summons, and claimed the ticket was a mistake. In fact, according to a agency spokeswoman, department staff was warned not to cite certain violations in the are, to avoid just such ironies.

“The Department of Sanitation instructed its enforcement personnel not to issue summonses for certain infractions at these locations,” said Kathy Dawkins. “Unfortunately, a summons for storing plastic trash bags placed out on a public sidewalk on a non-collection day was issued to that address in error.”

The city told residents of Barwell Terrace, Wogan Terrace, Hamilton Walk, and Lafayette Walk back in March they they would have to start bringing their trash out to the curb of a public street for collection, ending the nearly 80-year practice of sanitation workers walking down the private walkways to pick up trash from the homes, according to Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann.

“These four locations are unique in that they’re off a main public street, and the manual collection was designed for that reason,” she said.

On June 5, the Department of Sanitation’s director of community affairs, Harry Ehrhardt, sent a letter to CB10 explaining that sanitation workers would no longer collect trash from the private streets due to safety concerns. And on June 26, residents of the four private streets responded by filing suit against the city and Department of Sanitation seeking restoration of service.

A resident who also lives on 94th Street between Hamilton and Lafayette Walks said he does not want to pay a price for the new policy because he lives in front of a newly designated trash drop-off area.

“I’m completely against the policy because I don’t want everybody else’s garbage piled out on my sidewalk, and I know I would be liable for it,” said Joe Sokoloski, who has lived in his home for 18 years and is a petitioner in the lawsuit the residents filed. He said the 32 homes that are on and between Hamilton and Lafayette walks can create a “mountain of garbage” on the curbs on trash-collection day.

Larney and Beckmann said that the new policy is also a violation of the city’s Health and Administrative Code, which states that “a person may not … place his/her refuse in front of a premises other than the building in which he/she resides or works,” according to the Department of Sanitation rule book.

The petitioners’ court date is set for August 18 in Kings County Supreme Court, according to Stephen Harrison, the attorney representing the residents.

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